The room became extremely quiet as President Barrack Obama’s voice emanated from the television screen. There was a collective intake of breath as silent prayers were lifted, asking God to insure the safety of all those deployed and asking for an answer to their prayer to bring all troops home now!
Nine families were represented in this gathering of support. There are mothers and fathers of sons and daughters who are serving their country in the war zone in Afghanistan. There are wives and girlfriends along with a husband and a boyfriend of other soldiers who are deployed. Several siblings, cousins, friends and a grandfather rounded out those who tried not to show their worry.
And each has a story to tell! (See “Hoping for a quick extraction”)
The room was alive with emotion and silence. A few nervous twitches could be detected but no one spoke. Then, President Obama said, “Good evening. Nearly 10 years ago…” and there was a noticeable sigh of letting go to listen to what the Commander in Chief had to say!
Looking around the room, one could see the intense concentration on some faces, the worry on others and still there were those that were blank – hoping for a ‘bring them home tomorrow’ order yet knowing the reality of that impossibility. And the speech went on!
“…I ordered an additional 30,000 American troops into Afghanistan,” said the President.
A few more uncomfortable twitches and elbow nudges as some of those impacted by that surge released a bit of nervous tension. And the President continued, “I also made it clear that our commitment would not be open-ended, and that we would begin to drawdown our forces this July. Tonight, I can tell you that we are fulfilling that commitment.”
A few small cheers were heard and yet there was still that deep intake of breadth as attention was riveted to the details of what would actually take place. And then, like a palpable heartbeat, there was disappointment. Yes, troops would be coming home but it would still take a year to get back to the “before the surge levels.” And still there would be soldiers on the ground, fighting the Taliban; fighting Al-Qaeda; and, being in harm’s way every day in Afghanistan!
The rest of the speech droned on and the majority of those gathered patiently listened, but they had heard what they had come to hear. There would be no immediate cease-fire. There would be no immediate bring them home now! And there did not seem to be any evidence of speeding up the deployments for the loved ones in the room.
Little John, whose father left their Rosedale home last Christmas, dared to say what was on everyone’s mind: “Well, I guess we’ll have to wait ‘til next July to see dad, huh?”
In Part III of Hoping for a quick extraction, comments from some family members as they reacted to the President’s address to the nation on June 22, 2011.
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Note: This author also writes “Cancer-in-baltimore” and “Environmental- news-in-baltimore” columns on icedjamb.com. Feel free to browse those articles.