Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Letters to a Young Tricenarian

I wanted to publish a letter I wrote today to my cousin Ryan. For those of you who don't know Ryan, he is currently deployed in Iraq for the umpteenth time. Instead of catching up and writing a blog about the election, the bank crisis, and my cuz, I thought this letter would take care of all of them in one shot.


October 29th, 2008


Hey cuz. Hope this letter finds you well.

I write this to you in one of the final months of a steadily tanking presidential administration, during one of the most fierce political battles in history, in the midst of the worst national financial crisis our nation has seen since the the years after Black Tuesday, the worst global financial crisis the world has ever seen, and most importantly, a time when I think most people are secretly tired of seeing Christmas ornaments on display prior to Halloween even taking place. Oh well. At least I have the day off.

I would never “envy” your geographical location, certainly not during these volatile years. However I do think (even though I know you have satellite radio and the AF Network) that missing out on some of the recent media frenzy isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Worst of all, the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have taken a severe backseat position in the wake of the political mudslinging and fallout from global money mismanagement. How do you and your comrades see this? It pains me to admit that via hindsight, I can confirm what I have already believed: Attention paid to these wars has been nothing more than a blatant abuse of the casualties suffered and stresses endured, only for the morbid and self-centered perverse benefit of those immediately involved, be it a journalist, a politician, a film producer, or a religious zealot. The only members of our communities that truly care about the men and women in your shoes are the brothers, sisters, cousins, daughters, sons, husbands, wives, mothers, and fathers, who have nothing to selfishly gain on a personal level. In fact, we lose more than we care to admit within the exchange rates of the transaction, but in the end, what keeps me comforted (and I hope you, on dark days) are two things: You are bravely and diligently doing your job, and you are there so we do not have to be.

While I might speak of media figures with disdain, I have (as you know) developed a place in my heart for theorists, philosophers, and print journalists, and have actually acquired more useful knowledge from their efforts than from all the talking heads on TV combined. Christopher Hitchens has written a book that I encourage you to read, if you are able to find it. I would have included it in this package myself, but I am actually having trouble locating a copy. It’s titled A Long Short War: The Postponed Liberation of Iraq. The book itself is a cleverly and intelligently written tome, which combines the sometimes stagnant waters of history with justly-deserved pokes of humor and irony. Hitchens is a self-proclaimed “contrarian”, and while I certainly don’t put stock in everything he spews forth, he has a high regard for our military and sees a silver lining in what has become the dark cloud of the storm brewing in the distance…the elephant in the room that the administration seems to be pretending doesn’t exist.

I find myself wishing more and more that I had drilled a hole in your head the last time you visited and installed a GPS tracking device while you slept. I have been overseas myself, but we as a global community are numb and overly dependant on digital communication devices, and I certainly abused them across the pond as well. When you are stateside again, let’s put a tag on your ear in much the same way that marine biologists track dolphins. I think this will help everyone in the family sleep better at night.

I also wanted to thank you for the transatlantic phone call several weeks ago. That was a wonderful surprise, and whether you realized it or not, it also took place on my birthday weekend. It always makes me relax a bit when I know that even in a war-torn country in an undisclosed location, you are able to kick back for a few minutes, enjoy a football game, and give your cousin a call. Shall I thank the Army for their generosity with the phone bill? Or should I expect to contribute a little more via the 1040 when Spring rolls around?

I want to say “keep your chin up” or “hang in there” or some other overly used phrase of pseudo-comfort…which I suspect most people say for their own benefit instead of the recipient’s. But the truth is, you know what you are doing. Maybe a better phrase would be “you didn’t just fall off the watermelon truck”. You are exceptionally brave, strong, open-minded, and loyal. A double-edged sword though it is, you are EXACTLY who I would want in your place. I know no one else who could do a better job doing your job. Though I may not agree with the governance that got us into this situation (and unfortunately keeps us there), the appreciation and awe that most of us feel toward you and others like you should be the fire in your heart. To be this selfless and devoted regardless of the “why” behind the “when” is something I wish I could understand more fully.

All that being said, get your ass back over here. We miss you greatly. As does your ever-expanding immediate family. I can’t even begin to keep up with them now. I think you have seventeen kids and four wives at last count. The oldest kids are Riley, Miley, Liley, and Kiley. And somehow you just married Jessica Alba, Salma Hayek, and Claire Daines. I hear Krissy is teaching them how to cook just as well as she can, but I can sense it will end up being worth it no matter how arduous or daunting a task it may be.

Watch your back. Watch your buddy’s back. Let your team know I love them too. One of the greatest gifts that the religions of the Middle East (born from the ancient history of the very soil you now tread) have ever given us is the concept of Agape.

I love you and miss you. See you soon.

-Jason Ezzell