The Worst Day on My Calendar

Posted on September 2, 2009

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I may never forget it. We were milling around in the dark. We didn’t really know where we were. We’d never heard of “Ad Dammam” before. We were supposed to have all finished our gallon jugs of water during the flight from Fort Stewart, so most of us wanted to be in the latrines rather than in formation – if we could see where the latrines were.

A dark shape stood in front of us with a megaphone. He introduced himself to us. Then he said, “It’s 3:30 AM on September 2nd, the temperature is 87 degrees, and the humidity is 80%. Welcome to Saudi Arabia.”

After we got back, September 2nd became my personal Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day. Over time, its overwhelming significance, as the anniversary of Operation Desert Shield, faded. For years, the anniversary went by without me even noticing.  This year seems different. It’s been 19 years, and the idea that it’s been almost 20 years, affect me much the way turning 39 held more gravity than actually turning 40.

There was a time when I tried to take this day off from work. I didn’t sit at home in the dark and cry or anything overly dramatic. I won’t this year either. I prefer to get outside and experience the Pacific Northwest, an environment so wonderfully different from what I experienced during the war. I like to be with our pets. This year, Barnum & Bailey Circus is coming to our town, and I’m going to watch the parade from the rail yard to the grounds.

If you were over there, with the 69th Armor Regiment, or the 197th Infantry Brigade (Mechanized) (Separate), or the 24th Infantry Division, sound off in the comments. I’m thinking about you today.

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