While I derive the most personal enjoyment from studying British politics before 1800 (what can I say? I'm a nerd), I'm also not one to stick my head in the sand, and I try to keep up with major current events. Along those lines, despite having waxing and waning doubts about the efficacy of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, I've always been proud of my country, and I have always supported American and Coalition troops. No matter what yours or my personal opinions on politics might be, the bottom line is that these men and women have voluntarily offered to sacrifice everything up to and including their lives on our behalf. They deserve our thanks and our respect.
For me, all of this was rather abstract until I met Spike. He wasn't yet a Captain then; he was a First Lieutenant in charge of an artillery platoon in the Khost province of Afghanistan. Despite his protestations to the contrary, he's actually a very good writer, and his descriptions of what daily life was like in a combat zone blew me away. Suddenly, "the war" became real to me in a way that it never had been before. Someone I cared about was in harm's way--and I'd be foolishly naive if I didn't acknowledge the fact that he might be again at some point in the future. His courage, resolve, and patriotism astound me.
Knowing Spike has made me realize on a visceral--not just an academic--level just how much honor the members of our military deserve. So if you can, thank a Soldier, Sailor, Marine, Airman, or Coast Guardsman tomorrow for what he or she is doing and sacrificing.
When you buy your Cup(s) of Joe, you also have a chance to write a thank you note--and often, the Soldier who receives the beverage will respond back with a thank you note of his or her own. I've "sent" coffee several times now, and I plan on doing so until all of our troops make it back home...whenever that might be. The way I see it, the very least I can do is show my support by giving a handful of brave individuals a little taste of home. Honestly, though, I think that beyond sharing the deliciousness of coffee*, the real value of the Cup of Joe for a Joe program is that it reminds the members of our military that those of us back home remember them, pray for them, and support them.
Since this is my blog, I'll share my one of my personal favorite ways to say "thanks" to our troops who are currently serving overseas: Green Beans Coffee's Cup of Joe for a Joe program. Green Beans Coffee has American-style coffeeshops at a growing number of bases overseas (several of which were honored by Spike's patronage)--and for $2 apiece, you can gift a member of our military with a hot (or cold!) beverage. So if you've ever wished you could buy a cup of coffee for a soldier to say thanks, here's your chance.
If you have a facebook account, you can become of a fan of Cup of Joe for a Joe.
I don't want to go on a soapbox rant here, but I don't think anyone can deny that OIF and OEF are often shunted to the fringes of the nightly news. A lot of Americans go days, weeks, months, or more without really thinking about the fact that tens of thousands of their countrymen are sleeping and eating and fighting far from home. Armed Forces Day is, ultimately, just another day on the front lines for those troops--but it's a great reminder to the rest of us of the debt of gratitude we owe them.
*Coffee is in fact delicious, and it's one of the things that the Captain and I first bonded over. For both of us, it's more than just a beverage. It's a way of life. I have been drinking my morning brew since roughly fourth grade, and Spike owns not one, not two, but three coffeemakers. In fact, to show his devotion to that blessed nectar of the gods, I share the following quote from one of his first emails to me, written somewhat facetiously from Afghanistan:
"My gunnery sergeants and I always have the coffee pot going :-) My boss still gives me a hard time about moving to my current assignment. When he told me about my move the first thing I asked him was 'Is there a coffee maker there?' I guess he was thinking I would be more concerned about enemy activity or something else trivial."
Coffee. It does a body good, no matter where in the world you are.
Note the cup of coffee in his hand-usually a permanent fixture. If the Captain were Popeye, this would be his spinach.
I'm drinking a cup of coffee in front of Shakespeare's home. It seemed like a fitting way to honor him.
Stratford-Upon-Avon, England, 2005