“Not all superheroes wear a cape; mine wears Kevlar.”
My friend Susan shared that bumper sticker with me this week. It made perfect sense to Susan as her husband, Tommy, is serving with the Georgia National Guard in Iraq. It’s been a tough month for the Guard which had suffered no combat deaths from World War II through July 23, 2005. Since then, eleven soldiers died in 10 days, including Camden County’s own Jonathan Haggin and Lewie Ganey of Folkston.
2,700 guardsmen from around Georgia are serving with 1,600 others from five states and Puerto Rico to compose the 48th infantry brigade. These are the citizen soldiers who work as teachers, real estate agents, security guards, bankers, surveyors and in hundreds of other jobs, until needed by the military. And now on a daily basis these citizen soldiers are going into harms way to keep the peace in Iraq. These are the heroes in Kevlar.
Back home, cars are decorated with magnetic ribbons proudly declaring “We support our troops” and similar sayings. But if all one does is buy a magnetic ribbon, were the troops the ones supported or was it the Chinese magnetic ribbon makers? This is not to belittle the ribbons. They are, after all, a tangible sign for one another that our friends and loved ones are currently serving in a very hostile environment.
Instead of criticizing the bumper stickers, I want to expand ideas about how to make that support tangible. After all, no matter what one feels about the war, we can all agree that we need to support those who are serving in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Persian Gulf area.
Here are two concrete possibilities that go beyond magnetic ribbons:
First, you can directly contact soldiers with a note of support, a phone card to use in calling a loved one or some other small gift. Postal regulations no longer allow you to send a package marked “for any soldier” and send it to the war zone. However, technology has helped bridge that gap. The website http://anysoldier.com currently has 3,567 service men and women willing to receive packages to distribute to persons with whom they serve.
Anysoldier.com gives the details on where to send what and how. The information is constantly changing, but the site is kept up to date. Because of this, there is no way other than the web to access the listings. If you don’t have web access, you can probably find someone with an Internet connection willing to retrieve some contact information for you.
Second, you can pray. I know this sounds like a small thing. But as Pastor Bob Moon, who preceded me as a writer in this space, would say, “Prayer is the most we can do.” We act embarrassed about offering to pray for someone as if it is of no consequence. But prayer changes things and it is the most we can do for someone.
Rather than praying generally for our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines in harms way, you can find some specific servicemen and women for whom to pray. At www.kingofpeace.org we’ve kept an online prayer vigil with names of soldiers to pray for since America went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq. You can send in more names for prayer as well.
And you can also pray for the families of the soldiers. After all a dedicated soldier and loving dad like Jonathan Haggin deserves all the prayers we can give to Anna, their daughter Leaundra, and their second child on the way. Lewie Ganey’s wife is Debra and his six-year old daughter is Vanessa and they too need your prayers. You may be able to assist these two families in other ways, but prayer really is the most you can do.
And remember now, more than ever, our citizen soldiers in the 48th infantry. They are grieving eleven deaths as they go on about their dangerous work. Hold them in your prayers.
With two tangible things you can do to truly support our troops, don’t let what Camden County does for its servicemen and women be limited to bumper sticker ideology. You can’t see the stickers from the Middle East anyway. Expand your support to include letters and prayers as well as magnetic ribbons. It’s what our Kevlar-clad superheroes deserve.
(The Rev. Frank Logue is pastor of King of Peace Episcopal Church in Kingsland.)
King of Peace Episcopal Church + P.O. Box 2526 + Kingsland, Georgia 31548-2526