Friday, November 2, 2012

Military Pride

In the days following Hurricane Sandy, this photo circulated on facebook:

Such a moving picture, showing the dedication of our military personnel who stood by the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier through a pounding rainstorm.*  And the number of times it showed up in my newsfeed, as many of my friends reposted it, reminded me of how we, as a nation, revere and celebrate our military.  We are thankful for their dedication and sacrifice.  And we trust that they will protect us.

This will be something new for Eli to learn.

During our first trip to the mall after he came home, I bought Eli a pair of camouflage pants at the Gap.  He's never worn them, so recently when he was getting dressed I pulled them out and suggested he try them on.

He looked at the pants for moment, then looked up at me and said "in the Gambella" and then made a motion like he was firing a gun.  He went on to tell me that men "in the Gambella" wore those pants, and shirts that looked like that, too.

Realization dawning.

There are frequent clashes between the Ethiopian military and his Anuak tribe, like this incident from August 2012 reported by Human Rights Watch.  My heart stopped when I read the soldiers had beat a four year-old boy, picturing Eli.

I asked him if only the soldiers wore that, and he said yes.  I then asked him if the soldiers were scary, and he said yes again.

Oh, dear.

The pants have been put away.  We'll talk more about the soldiers in Ethiopia when he is ready, and we'll talk about how soldiers here are not scary.

I am again grateful for the grace Eli shows me as I learn to be his mother.  He is always so patient while he re-adjusts my perspective.

I'm a very lucky mom.

* This photo went viral on the Internet as showing the guards standing by during Hurricane Sandy.  Apparently the photo was not actually taken during Hurricane Sandy, but earlier in September of this year.  Nonetheless, there were indeed soldiers standing by the tomb during this hurricane, as they have for every minute of every day, during every hurricane, blizzard and other storm, since April 6, 1948.


  1. I was worried about that with Zebdi, especially being that he was older and had experienced more of life in Gambella before coming into care. With Mike being in the Air Force, I was worried that it was going to really freak him out. It hasn't seemed to have created any issues for Zebdi, maybe because the ACU's and ABU's are so different that the older style camo that they wear in Ethiopia? But he's been on base quite a bit and hasn't freaked out too much.

    I have also found that the military didn't do too much in the Mejanger areas where he is from, so that might have something to do with it too.

  2. Wow. So many lessons to learn for both of you. I'm glad you're blogging so that someday you'll remember all of this.