Friday, March 07, 2008

Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen

It's over.

The War has ended.

Silence... "the sound of peace"...

in Korea.

I should explain. I watched the series finale of M*A*S*H tonight, for the first time. I vaguely remember the series when I was a kid (in syndication, of course)- it always seemed dull to me. Until these past couple years, that is.

You know, it is amazing watching a show about the Army from this perspective, set in the early 50s, written in the 70s and early 80s. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

There are aspects to the show that put what we go through in perspective- like the time that Charles had a week's worth of newspapers, and they were a hot commodity- most soldiers today have news at their fingertips. And when I think DFAS (the Army pay system) is bad, well, at least they no longer hand out cash- which could potentially be ingested by a goat..

There are other things that are different- this war, for example, is asymmetrical- there are no clear boundaries. North and South simply don't exist. Today's Army is 100% volunteer- there is no such thing as being called to duty by Uncle Sam entirely against your will (maybe only 97% against your will...) And, if you get caught with alcohol in the desert now, that's reason for severe punishment... let alone if you have your own still...

And yet, some things are the same. Families are missed. Lives are interrupted. Most importantly, soldiers- and civilians- are wounded and killed.

Near the end of the finale, all the characters announce what their lives will entail post-war. I couldn't help but realize how much war changes people- personally, I cannot even fathom what that must be like. I do know that I am married to a man changed by war. This deployment probably won't have the impact on him that the last one did- but still, you can't walk away unchanged.

I felt like I too said good-bye to some dear friends tonight. I regret that Jon wasn't here to watch it with me- it has come to be one of our favorite shows. I know that the reruns will still be on, and I will continue to watch them.

But tonight, I cried. I felt the mixed emotions of saying good-bye to friends, while being overjoyed to return home. I thought of the friends Jon made on his last tour, and how they are still a part of our lives. I wondered about the people we will meet over the next 17 years of this journey...

I know MASH is just a show. I know that for those who served in the Korean War, it was much more tragic, and much less, well, funny. I just wonder how GWOT will be portrayed in 20 or 30 years...

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