We all have that one friend. You know the one I’m talking about. The one that’s known us almost forever, the one we’ve been through the thickest and the thinnest of all things with. That OLD friend who laughed at us when we knocked ourself unconscious in jump school and will NEVER let us live it down (I was merely dazed, dammit!). The friend who knows our most embarrassing secrets, but who will never out us, no matter how much it pains them not to. That friend who, when they wrecked our truck (step one: engage parking brake, step two: put vehicle in neutral, step three: only THEN should you exit), not only paid to have it fixed, but bought us an expensive bottle of single-malt to help drown the disappointment. That friend that knows the perfect gift for an airborne soldier is a flask with our jump wings and nickname engraved on it (Tigger? Really? Just because I sing a lot of Winnie the Pooh songs…). That friend that sends us an amazing “just married” package full of soju and other sundries all the way from Korea in celebration of our wedding (not sure if soju should be considered a gift, actually). The one who never forgets our birthday, mostly to make us feel guilty for always forgetting theirs. The one who readily trusts us and tosses us their car keys when we volunteer to be the designated driver during yet another raucously debauched evening at Ft. Benning–despite the fact that driving a sedan full of drunken grunts around all night is no one’s idea of a good time–and who we know wouldn’t hesitate to do the same for us. The one we feel utterly comfortable cavorting around the woods with in nothing but our skivvies during a backpacking trip after an Oregon deluge has soaked everything we own into sodden piles of muck. The one who has no problem running headlong into the black ocean in the middle of the night with us to escape the sadistic and deranged North Carolinian sand fleas. The one who “gets” our fetish for Aussie accents and swears he’d get the numbers of all the Aussie SF gents his company links up with in Afghanistan for us if we were still single, and we know he really would. The one who, while visiting his three girlfriends in Moscow, still manages to find the time to pick us up a bottle of the best Russian Standard we’ll ever drink. That one who could win awards for the way he swings to the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies. That friend who taught us that the quickest and most effective remedy for a hangover is five mile tempo run. The one who has already served a tour in Iraq and whose whole family is no stranger to service and combat; who’s brother worked at the Pentagon; whose father was a Special Forces soldier in Laos during the Vietnam War; whose mother experienced first hand the trials and deprivations of Vietnam’s occupation by first the French then by Communist forces; yet he still volunteers to make the hard choice and step up for yet another combat tour in the name of his values and country. The friend that insists on helping us clean up the destruction of our house after a full night of partying despite the fact that we both have quadruple vision and have to lean on each other just to stay upright.
And that’s the friend I’m talking about today, peeps. The one I’ve leaned on for over fifteen years, and who, during the last eleven years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, this whole country has. This post is in honor of my friend Al Dupre, his unit, Alpha Company, 1st of the 285th ARB, Arizona National Guard, who shipped out today for a nine month tour of Afghanistan, and all those who have served and are currently serving in one of the five US military branches. We all have loved ones and friends who’ve served in the two wars of Iraq and Afghanistan and, no matter what our opinions of these wars, we owe it to these courageous people for being willing to literally put themselves in front of bullets to keep us safe. In celebration of this year’s Fourth of July holiday, I encourage everyone to send kind and supportive messages to your loved ones and friends serving our country, and remember that it is in no small manner thanks to their bravery, courage, and integrity that we are the nation we are.
PS: Apologies for the somberness of this post. Next time, I promise to write something funny. Funny in the way 40 Year Old Virgin would be if David Fincher or Christopher Nolan had directed it. You’ve been warned.