So, I’ll be at the Presidential Inauguration this year. That’s right, me, the kid whose teachers said would never amount to anything more than a manure mover wearing overalls every day, not that there’s anything wrong with that. I don’t know how it happened; it just happened. My commander got invites for 10 soldiers in my unit, including me. Since I learned the news, I’ve been picturing the celebrity lifestyle. The food will be fancy, the women incredible, and I’ll probably duck for cover at the drop of a spoon. Considering I’ve worn the same thing every day and I haven’t eaten with real silverware for a year, I probably won’t fit in. Also, I think I still have a pizza stain on my Class A’s. Even still, I’ve wondering about the whole thing…
“Son, my wife and I just want to thank you for your service.” Why thank you, sir. “So where are you stationed?” I just returned from Iraq, sir. “Wow, I was there for a couple days… you know visiting troops.” Yes, sir, we appreciate that. “My wife and I are just so proud of all you brave men and women.” Is this your wife sir? “Uh, no, it’s my… uh third cousin, Trudy. Her daddy is a plum farmer down in Alabama, New York. Fine man. Well, would you look at the time?” You take care now, son.” Thank you, sir.
I’m definitely trying the caviar. “What would you like, sir,” says the tuxedo server man in his snooty wish-I-were-British voice. By the time I get to the service line, I’ll have a couple of beers down me. I’ll have one of them there dilles on a cracker. “Oh, how cute, you’re drunk. You mean caviar. That suit looks good on you. What’s your name?” Uh, Sminklemeyer. “Silly, that’s not what your name tag says. You’re too funny. Say, I’m having a party…” Maybe I won’t have the cracker thing after all.
I’ll get to rub elbows with “W.” Knowing me, I’ll probably poke my eye when I salute. “Easy there, son, you’re not in Iraq anymore.” Sorry, sir, it’s just I’m nervous. “What’s there to be nervous about?” Well, you are the President, sir. “Nah, I’m just a man. Tell me about Iraq, son.” Well, sir, we are doing great things there and our soldiers perform every day, risking their lives to give this country freedom and to keep those assholes – I’m sorry, sir, I didn’t mean to cuss – from entering the United States. “You sound like my kind of soldier. What did you do there?” I’m an Army journalist, sir, stationed, or was, in Mosul. I had the great opportunity to tell their story, sir, a story of courage and sacrifice. I’m proud of my fellow soldiers. “Is there any one thing that sticks out to you from your experience?” Although I want to say you can’t discard toilet paper in the toilet, I’ll refrain… yes, sir, I was at this school opening once and this child read an essay in English to the soldiers. There’s also this time that I saw a soldier take two bullets in the leg and one in the gut, but he kept fighting and saved his fellow squad members. I’ve seen the good and bad, but I prefer to remember the ribbon cuttings, the children’s smiles and the Iraqis who served me tea and bought presents. “You take care now, sergeant Sminklemeyer. Welcome home.”
Truth is, I’m honored to be invited to see good old George W. Bush take his second oath of office. How many times does this happen in one’s lifetime? And I doubt any of the above dialogue will become reality, at least I hope not. I just hope I don’t do anything stupid, like trip over an extension cord or spill a drink on a senator. Eh…. What are they going to do, send me to Iraq?