Cogan’s Pub Norfolk Virginia
We came for the pizza – HONEST

It’s nearly Christmas and we are back in Norfolk Virginia where the lawns are lush and green and they measure height above sea level in small increments like 3, 4 or 5 feet versus thousands of feet like in high and dry Flagstaff. Across the street a man has just started mowing the church lawn. He’s dressed in nice slacks, a button shirt, has an evangelical smile and seems to know all the passers by so my guess is he writes sermons when he’s not tending the lawn.

The ubiquitous Crepe Myrtle of Tidewater Virginia

Life is very different in Tidewater Virginia compared to Flagstaff Arizona. Aside from being surrounded by an abundance of water you are also surrounded by active military and civilian personnel who’s involvement in the worlds turmoil is personal not just academic. The young Air Force officer sipping tea next to me leaves tonight for the Middle East to serve his country in a remote and dangerous place. It’s his fifth year in uniform since graduating from the Air Force Academy but it will be his first Christmas in Afghanistan. Like the rest of us he would prefer to spend the holidays with his family (in Texas) but he took an oath and is honoring it. No complaining. “They’re short on intel officers… other guys have it a lot worse than I do… I’m going to the northern part, it’s safer than the south or east… and it’s winter, no one likes fighting in the cold… I’ll just be going from village to village collecting intel…”

I am sure he is acutely aware of the daily dangers he will be living with but has chosen not to focus on them nor bother me with them. In a few days he will don full combat gear, grab his weapon, and travel down the cold, dangerous roads of Northern Afghanistan in search of intel while at the same time I will be casually strolling between the coffee houses and cafes of Norfolk Virginia. To borrow the young captain’s words, “other guys have it a lot worse than I do”.

I’d like to say thanks to everyone in and out of uniform working in harms way or far from home in the service of our country. I hope you are back soon, safe and whole, and I realize that the freedom and opportunities I have are in part due to the personal sacrifices you have made and continue to make. THANK YOU.

Categories: Travel

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