Sep 102010

Our Pvt. Ryan

He won't quit just yet!

On Teh Faceypagez, I actually met Ryan’s Training Technician who was kind enough to share a bunch of pics of Ryan’s squad. (Is that the correct terminology?) From what I understand, this gentleman’s job is to check which group is doing what and record their progress, so I, and the other family members, get to follow along! This picture is obviously cropped, as I don’t have permission from the Drill Sargeant who was in the picture with Ryan to include him, who was offering up a Motivational Pep Talk. However, I can’t wait to meet him when we attend Ryan’s graduation, because I know in my heart he is doing his best to ensure Ryan is capable of defending himself, his fellow Soldiers and his country when the time comes that training is needed.

Poor guy – he looks so extremely tired! I know he’s tired and in pain, so my daily letter writing campaign has not stopped, nor will it. He needs the motivation! It was hard at first to identify our son among all the others, but there were subtle clues in there for us to know for sure that was our boy, working hard and staying vigilant. I can’t say enough how proud I am of him, and how inspired I am of him for following through with such a tough calling. Most people in the world simply don’t do that.

I felt so terribly sad when we missed his phone call last Friday night, which was not our fault. Our cell phone company screwed us, because the phone didn’t ring! We were only a few feet away from it! That was our one chance to talk to Ryan for the next few weeks and hear his voice, and we were denied that. I’ve had that phone all but wrapped around my neck like Soap on a Rope, and yet we still missed the call. Fortunately, he wrote us, which we got the letter Tuesday, and that made all the difference in the world! Not only did I finally have an address to send him the dozens of letters I’ve already compiled, but I also had his squad/group/company (please help me here!) info. That enabled me to contact other family members in the same group, which is how I met Ryan’s Training Tech. Still, I really wish I had been able to speak to him.

I have to acknowledge seeing pics, talking to others and swapping information simply was not available even a few years ago, especially at this level, and I will be forever grateful. It’s made the military less of a scary venture for us back at home, and it makes me feel that much better about Ryan’s decision. I believe it’s because of this I have yet to shed a single tear, let alone turn into a blubbering mess, and a part of me wonders if I’m either a cold-hearted you-know-what or a self-absorbed you-know-what. I guess I just don’t have that level of anxiety and/or depression, thanks to everyone’s support and encouragement.

I know not everyone agrees with Ryan following his calling, just as I do not agree with the hardline pacifists, but I try to extend mutual respect and understanding. However, I worry that level of common courtesy is not being extended. Code Pink (co-founded by Starhawk), for example, does not get much respect from me, because they seem to have no problem telling a Gold Star mom her “son deserved to die“. How truly heartless can one be? Why should that be even tolerated? Yes, perhaps it was one individual saying that, but Code Pink did not publicly condemn that statement from what I know, so they’re off my list of pacifist groups to respect, and retroactively apologizing at this point would probably fall flat.

Also, it is because of this wealth of information presented to me that I can honestly see not all Soldiers are murderous, calculating serial killers like the Stryker Soldiers in the news this week. Their crimes are an unspeakable act, yes, but they do not represent all Soldiers – not by a long shot. By that line of reasoning, we’d have to assume all military personnel are like Timothy McVeigh, Jeffrey Dahmer or Charles Whitman. Yes, they all had military training, but that is the extent of their commonality with all the millions of kind-hearted souls over the years who rarely ever make the front page.

I have zero respect for people of faith who selfishly pull a publicity stunt that risks the lives of countless others in order to get what they want. That, to me, is terrorism, plain and simple. At least eleven people have already been injured due to this man’s callousness, of whom I refuse to name, and if his book burning does indeed happen tomorrow, I fear this will only be the tip of the iceberg. To me, he’s no different than Ole Boy Phelps, who must be really seething right now.

And why is that? Oh, I don’t know, maybe because his greatest fear is coming to fruition, perhaps? It’s scary to think people are so worried about gays and lesbians being in the military, because they’ve always been there! I happen to know of a couple folks who have the VA benefits to prove it, and I wouldn’t ever worry my son was going to be attacked by them in the shower or something. Sure, there may indeed be a few “immoral deviants” who happen to be gay lurking in the shadows, but statistically speaking, there are that many more who consider themselves hetero. My uncle and his partner were gay, and I had no problem crashing at their place back when Ryan was a defenseless toddler, so why should I worry now? Just sayin’. Oh, and by they way - THANK YOU – to you veterans, because you’ve been helping me stay sane!

It’s even scarier to think how disturbed the bulk of other (vocal) Army moms are about this. The past few months that I’ve been incognito on Teh Faceypages have really opened my eyes to the level of fear and bigotry that permeates the military atmosphere. Yes, they’re a nice group of women to me, but I have to wonder how nice they’d be if they knew I was “Duh Debil” and my son was the spawn of such. I catch enough flak just for being from Chicago, much less a native with the “hard vowel accent”, because a certain man they have no problem talking smack about on a daily basis also hails from here.

I’m on FB now, and ZOMG the Jeebus blathering, Beck-worshiping and fear-mongering is incredulous! I was saying to my friend yesterday over lunch, whom I haven’t seen in a few years, how these women truly seem to have no lives outside their now adult children. It’s kind of sad when I think about it. At first, I felt that way too: lost, worried, helpless. But I look around, and I realize I have so much more to offer the world outside “providing cannon fodder” (yes, thanks for that title, btw. It’s much appreciated – NOT!). My wish is they too find something special to fill their lives with, because I know that hole in their hearts is so large and deep right now.

There’s a scene in Kill Bill: Vol. II, where Bill tells Beatrix about his favorite super hero: Superman. Unlike other superheroes, Superman has to hide his true identity and disguises himself as a normal, geeky mortal, rather than the other way around. That rings true to me as well (nix the vigilantism and all that, of course). In my entire life, I’ve never felt the need to hide who I truly am for more than a week or so, so it’s really killing me to grin and bear it now. I’m a brutally honest extrovert by nature, with a potty mouth to boot, and I’ve never really given a second thought to walking on eggshells to please everyone. My friend made mention of that yesterday, which I normally curb, but the four letter words come out when I’m excited or agitated. (I guess I’ll never cut it as a spokesperson or politician LOL!) I’ve been to more schools than many military brats, and just as many jobs, so whenever I couldn’t take the crap anymore, I was up and on my way someplace else.

But this is not my life; this is Ryan’s. He doesn’t deserve or need any drama coming his way while he’s in training due to my choice in faith or lifestyle. Right now, he needs a normal mom who loves him unconditionally, and until he graduates, that is exactly what he’s going to have. I’ll even bake cookies in a frilly apron, if that’s what it takes! After that though, the white gloves come off, and my bad-ass, leather and denim-clad, tattooed, Brutal Metal Bitch, Progressive Pagan comes out – who still loves to cook! I may even do that while inviting them to tea. I’m not normal by anyone’s standards, and I like it that way. But as a mom, my son comes first.

Sep 072010

We got a letter from Ryan today, which is why I’m posting in the middle of the week! I was just too excited to keep it to myself until Friday! *YAY!* (He’s actually A Company, which I guess is Alpha. Boy did I get that wrong! LOL!)

Here’s what he had to say:

Hi guys,

I’m writing this in a bit of a rush, as we don’t get too much free time or time to sleep.

Basic is a definitive big change for everyone here. They rushed us off this huge bus and had cannons fire in the background as we double-timed our way to a gathering spot.

The people yelling at us really isn’t all that bad as they say. I got smoked my first night at Reception and could only think it was kind of funny afterward.

My first day is finished here at Basic after ten days at Reception, and it was probably the hardest day in my life.

Either way, I don’t plan on quitting just yet, so I’ll be sending a letter whenever I have some time.


So it seems we have a Private Joker among the group. ;) Personally, I think that’s a good frame of mind to have, because that means he acknowledges these guys do indeed have a human side and are just putting on their “game face”. I hope to hear about some shenanigans really soon! ;)

I know there are quite a few of you who’ve been following along with Ryan’s progress and would like to send well wishes to him. Because of OPSEC, as well as general privacy issues, I won’t be publicly posting his mailing address. However, if you like, you can post it in the comments below, and I’ll copy and paste it into my upcoming letters to him. Anything uplifting, or advice from vets, are very much encouraged! :) I’m sure he’d appreciate it!

And now onto a rather unpleasant issue I also could not wait until Friday to post:
“Minister: ‘Burn A Quran Day’ To Go As Planned On September 11″. These people make me sick! Not only are they directly endangering the lives of our Soldiers, but they’re demonstrating the same amount of intolerance of the Nazis and the agenda ole boy Phelps and company push. Whatever happened to “Love Thy Neighbor“? I guess they didn’t get that memo.

I’ll probably have more to say on this scary yet important issue as Friday approaches.

Anyway, like I said, I just couldn’t wait to share about getting our first letter from Ryan! We miss him so much, and having that note from him just makes me so happy!