I had the pleasure of meeting Joshua Palmer this past Saturday.
Like me, Josh is 24, a high school graduate from the year 2000, and he’s strikingly handsome (I’m good looking – just ask my mom).
Unlike me, he’s a responsible father of two (I just look pregnant), a caring and loving husband (my nickname is couch and chain), and he’s a two-tour veteran of Iraq – who’s awaiting the word to possibly head back for a third.
When I first saw Josh I thought he was at least thirty. He looks and acts how I envision myself to be when I’m all grown-up, which apparently – going on his age (24), appearance, demeanor, and accomplishments – should probably have happened already. There’s nothing that can make you feel like more of a jack#@& than being in the presence of someone who is generally a better person than you, especially when you, and everyone around you, knows it.
Not trying to get to down on myself, but having an experience like meeting Josh Palmer can really help you to – and I’m sorry for using this played out phrase – put things in perspective. I think I’m a good person, don’t get me wrong, but when I feel bad that I have to work a 12 hour day, or go out at night to cover an event in bad weather, I really need to “put things in perspective.”
Josh has a six month old daughter, and doing some simple math (subtracting six months from his recently wrapped up one year in Iraq) I’m guessing he never met his daughter until a few weeks ago when he got home. He also has an 18 month-old, who he’s presumably only spent half a year with.
I get sad if my cats don’t pay attention to me. I can’t imagine being in the shadow of a war, having young children I barely know living a world away.
I can’t give enough credit, or even relate to men and women like Josh Palmer, who despite their fear and heartsickness, have faith enough in God, America, or whatever, to leave their families behind to enter into the darkest of places – in some cases for years.
I know my family is proud of me. Josh Palmer’s family is definitely proud of him. But my family doesn’t cherish the last time we watched television together. They don’t schedule their days to make sure they’re near the phone when I call. They don’t mark the minutes, hours and sometimes days I’m away from home. They’ve never had to say good-bye to me, reasonably unsure of whether or not they’d see me again. They don’t fear for my life each day. They’ve never had to describe to me a child I’d never seen, and possibly may not ever.
It’s because they take me for granted.
It’s because even though my family is proud of what I’ve done, and they love me, it’s just not the same because they know I’m safe.
And I’m safe because of people like Josh Palmer. So thank our soldiers, because of them our families don’t love us like they should. Seriously, thanks for doing the things the rest of us can’t, we’ll be forever in your debt.