Our weeks in San Clemente – our winter get-away from the Pacific Northwest rain – have again been the wonderful! We’ve done all of our favorite things, eaten at our favorite restaurants, spent time on the beach, visited with friends and relatives.
Tradition is that every year, we ride through Camp Pendleton. It’s an emotional experience for me. We pass about 40-50 young soldiers in uniform and with huge backpacks, running. Obviously they’re training for what is in their future. I know they’ll be as well-trained as possible for what they will possibly encounter, but I wonder – how can anyone ever be prepared…or comprehend?
I experience so many feelings that it’s almost impossible to identify all of them.
I feel pride – these young men and women are dedicated and committed.
I’m fearful. For them. I want to protect them. They are so young and they have put their lives in the hands of total strangers who will rule their lives, their minds, for this period of time in the Military. They have agreed…no, committed themselves to a cause. Did they think it over carefully? Did they have good counsel? I look at them and wonder what motivated them to sign the dotted line. I wonder if they’re at peace with their decision.
We watched a program on TV last night about the Military, a documentary. Statistics indicate that over 10,000 men and women in the Military have committed suicide! This loss of life is higher than combat casualties at this point. That is beyond tragic. My heart aches for all of these young people who felt so trapped, unhappy, fearful….whatever their feelings of hopelessness…so intensely that they would end their life! My heart aches for the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, children, wives…all who loved them.
In the weeks that we’ve been here in San Clemente, three marines were killed in an auto accident a few miles away in Dana Point. The fourth man is in critical condition. Seven marines were killed in a mid air collision, some from the Camp. Another marine was shot by the police in San Clemente. That is under investigation. There is sadness and a pall over many here. These men and women are felt to be part of this community.
I feel excitement for the men and women who feel that this is their true calling…those who are happy with their decision…I’m happy for their adventure. I’m happy if they’re fulfilled in some deep way. And I know of some who feel that way.
Camp Pendleton is an enormous area. Enormous! It’s a city. A busy city. It includes 17 miles of coastline and extends inland for miles. We are in San Clemente, across the street from the north boundary of the Camp. The view across the road is beautiful, a panoramic view of hills, almost the size of mountains. It appears to be just another beautiful view. Until we hear, faintly and in the distance, revelry. During the day – and at night – we occasionally hear the whirring sound of helicopters on maneuver. We hear planes. And cannons. Sometimes so loud that they can be felt.
When I notice those sounds – the sounds of freedom, and the sights, I feel compassion for those that are caught in the actual, the reality. War. I just hate it! But I love these men and women.
I’m so grateful to them. And grateful to all who love them. I’m praying…
Let me be the change I want to see. Let peace begin with me.