Life lessons the Afghanistan war taught me

By J. Mark Jackson
Sunday, May 30, 2010

Late last year, after eight months of service halfway around the world, I decided to take stock of myself: I had not been monitoring my stock portfolios and investments closely. I was not current on the machinations of the faltering economy or what the health-care debate meant for my insurance. I had never heard of the finalists on any of the reality shows.

Was I unenlightened and out of touch with reality? Perhaps, by a conventional definition of being connected, informed and up-to-date, I was woefully ignorant.

I was deployed in Afghanistan, and that combat sabbatical taught a completely different regimen of vital knowledge. I have learned:

-- Although soldiers are predominantly young, virile men, cut off from feminine wiles and charms, what they miss most is food. But having said that . . .

-- Megan Fox is to Afghanistan what Betty Grable was to World War II.

-- When you look into the face of a gravely wounded soldier, your eyes fill with tears.

-- With some imagination, the sling seat in the gunner's turret of a Cougar combat vehicle can seem like a rocking chair.

-- Sometimes it is better to stay on radio watch than freeze in your sleeping bag.

-- The bulk of soldiers would relinquish their birthright for one ice-cold beer.

-- I dread the specter of death but do not fear it.

-- I am capable of performing acts of brutality but don't.

-- Although all Americans are born equal, all boots are not.


CONTINUED     1           >


© 2010 The Washington Post Company