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The Writer's Page November 15th, 2007

A new page in The Paper that offers a forum for area writers to display their work, to offer commentary, and/or criticism. Submit work by email, photo art will be considered (we prefer jpg). This will be an occasional feature, scheduled when the editor feels there is sufficent material with which to work and sufficient space to publish. No phone calls, please.

An Essay . . .

Mrs. Jenny Langston wrote the following essay about "War" for her English class at Cuyamaca Community College.

Submitted by: Vivian Stafford

Experience can give a word a whole new meaning, and even then it may mean something entirely different than what the dictionary defines.

Traditionally the actual word "war" is assumed to mean conflict, combat, or hostile confrontations, and usually it is all of those things. I have never felt the earth rumble under my feet because of a nearby bomb, or been afraid to leave my house because I may come across someone with a bomb strapped to their chest, but I have felt paralyzed with worry, and been completely powerless to adjust my situation. There are always at least two sides to a conflict. In this war there are several, but I only see my husband's side and my side. We both share the same position, but our experiences have been completely different.
My husband can identify with war as the dictionary defines it, by wearing a twenty-five pound bulletproof vest, at least two guns on his person at all times, and hoping that just one more day will pass without a mortar attack. Even while I sit in my safe home on the other side of the world, free from the fear of ongoing battle, I am not at peace. My war lies internally, where a simple phone call or email restores comfort only for a day or maybe only a couple of hours. For most people, turning on the television and seeing what is on the other side of a camera is their reality of war, but for me it is finally getting that phone call, and hearing my husband's voice on the other end, but then hearing the line crackle after the sound of explosions in the background.

I carry a burden much heavier than a twenty-five pound bulletproof vest. The shockwaves of war travel much farther than the blast radius of a bomb. They travel across an ocean, and into my heart. I am the strength behind a soldier whose life has become encompassed by war. For him, I am the calm voice at the other end of the phone call to ensure him that home is still home, and his anxiety will disappear as soon as his boots touch American soil. This is my war; I have to convince myself everything will be okay, and I have to encourage him to do what he has to do so he can come home, despite the sound of gunfire rattling into my mind through the phone lines.

War is such a small word, but with such an abstract meaning. Only a few years ago, this word may have had the same meaning as any other word in a sentence. Now it strikes with a feeling of panic and urgency, as well as the haunting memories of a not so distant past. War is something so uncertain that conjures an ever-growing fear of eminent danger. It does not bring immediate hope or faith, and it does not leave me with a feeling of inspiring outcome. It can impact the lives of so many people, and yet simultaneously mean nothing to so many
One simple definition could never universally classify this word. I will never be able to comprehend my husband's experiences with war, just as he will never be able to comprehend mine. War is a truth that has always commanded obedience, and it is not something that should be thought of as part of the background of life. It has always existed, just as the dictionary defines it, but there are those who wait for those who fight, and no dictionary could define that war. Anyone can give an opinion, but only those who wait can define what war means for them. For a year of very long minutes, I have tried to think of ways to distract my mind from the on-going crusade, but it is there and it has to be dealt with, and for me, that means showing love, support, and offering as much peace as one person can offer to another.

Editor’s Note: Jenny Langston is a student of Forensic Science and is interning at Naval Criminial Intelligence Service at Naval Base San Diego. Her Husband, Robert, just got back from Camp Bucca, Iraq. She and Robert got married in the summer of 06. Vivian Stafford is a Forensic Consultant for NCIS.





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