Sunday, December 9, 2007

Real Men Don’t Cry

In November I wrote the following paragraph and emailed it out to friends along with a link to my blog.

Two days ago I asked a soldier how he doing as a natural greeting. His normal reply and disposition were unusual. “Some things are going on,” he said. He didn’t want to talk about it. Within minutes he broke down crying. It wasn’t just a tear or two; it was uncontrollable weeping. The kind of crying that would come from a small child, but with much more pain. This particular soldier—a noncommissioned officer—isn’t new, youthful or inexperienced. In fact, he is witty, mature and emotionally intelligent. He has faced high stress situations before, but if you can believe it, this is his third time to Iraq. He’s exasperated; he’s emotionally exhausted. The thought came to me to send him my last blog. I wanted him to know he wasn’t alone, although those kinds of things are only reserved for certain people. I mean, I wouldn’t share them with most macho guys I’ve worked with. I hesitated to even share them at all. After all, ‘real men don’t cry.’

Well, here’s the rest of the story.

The soldier mentioned above couldn’t wait to thank me. “That’s exactly how I felt.” He was referring to what I had written in my blog titled Celebrating Veteran’s Day in Iraq. Right away, he sent it off to his wife.

I know a number of guys in law enforcement and military. I know and have worked with guys in Special Forces. I took a chance and sent that aforementioned paragraph to them. One guy who had recently returned from Iraq comforted, “Oh yes, men do cry.” Another good buddy who also served here, wrote, “Real men DO cry…” And in good humor that made me laugh, he added…and we’ll beat anyone up who says otherwise. That last friend of mine was blown up while driving in his humvee. The whole truck flipped upside-down. Thankfully he and his crew walked away unharmed.

Things are a lot better since I sent out that paragraph. I have felt better. Things have changed for the better. I don’t believe it came from any simple attitude adjustment or letters or boxes, although that has certainly been helpful. No, I felt the many prayers in my behalf and in behalf of the other troops here. Prayer is real and it works. God is real and He lives.

Speaking of letters and boxes, my aunt is an elementary grade school teacher out West. I haven’t spoken with her in years. She did the kindest thing recently; she had some of her sixth grade students write letters to me and my cousin Tyson, who is also serving in the Army. One little girl named Caitlyn, just a little older than my oldest daughter, wrote:

“Do you have any kids? If so what are there names? don’t worry about them and your wife I know there okay.” [sic] What an inspired and wonderfully precocious thing for a sixth grader to say! I must admit, that choked me up a bit.

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