Thursday, January 13, 2011

Magazines for Soldiers

I went over to my friend's apartment for a Sunday Manhattan brunch and the subject was guns. My liberal, college professor friend was now interested in gun magazines. Her husband is in the army, serving in Iraq. Every once and a while, he puts in a request for ammo magazines and she sends them over. Apparently, the ammo in the army frequently jams and is unreliable enough. The wife, therefore, has to provide the appropriate ammo for her husband, buy it, and then have it shipped to Iraq so he can serve in the army with a little bit more ease that his equipment works. This is also not uncommon, as Marines and Army people are now emailing and mailing their families and friends to buy them ammo, flak jackets, and other things our government doesn't provide or gives out a brand in such poor quality that soliders don't trust it.

As we sat their eating omelettes and blueberry waffles from her new waffle iron, drinking, she described her recent fixation with gun magazines. I couldn't help but think of the thousands of other women around the country shopping for the best flak jackets, researching ammo magazines, and sending over love letter wrapped in boots, fatigues, and military equipment.

The United States spends more on our military budget than most of the top 10 nations combined. Yet, our soldiers are scrambling to create makeshift armor on their vehicles. In education, we pour money in but teachers still discount shop at Staples to equip their classes. There is a humbled, sad pride in this sight. As our infrastructure keeps letting us down, as bureaucracy continues to gobble up more money, there are average citizens stepping, plugging the holes with their fingers, patching the quiltwork with their needles, serving for all without cost or recompense. They do it out of love and wanting the best. Is it possible to capture this spirit in a governmental system, or is this patriotism forever doomed to exist as patchwork and stop gaps for the failures of others? I suppose these army wives would never be able to show their true colors unless put to the test. But there has to be a better way to show your love for a husband or brother than FedEx'ing them protection that they should've had all along.