This year, however, I'm finding it very hard to summon up any enthusiasm for the Fourth of July holiday. I'm really not able to sincerely wish anyone a "Happy Fourth of July!" at the moment.
One of the downsides of working only three days a week (I'm going to duck right now before the stones start coming from everyone who has to work more often than that) and having a flexible schedule is that if you're not careful, you can wind up working considerably more days in a row than you'd intended to. Like in March, when I forgot that calendar months do attach to each other and wound up working the last two days of February followed immediately by the first two days of March. Working that many 12 hours shifts back-to-back-to-back-to-back was exhausting, and is not an experience I wish to repeat.
So I was extra cautious when I "finessed" my schedule to get the 19th through the 26th of June off, without taking any paid time off. This meant that in order to avoid working the last three days of last week and the first three days of this one all in a row, I had to schedule myself for the 3rd and 4th of July. Normally I don't mind working minor holidays--my hospital pays overtime pay for holiday shifts, and I'm always happy about extra money for yarn.
Unfortunately, when I checked the schedule yesterday, I was still the only RN scheduled to work tonight and tomorrow night. I'm really not looking forward to this Independence Day holiday.
But I've got a much more personal reason for why I'm not too thrilled this holiday.
I try not to use this blog as a platform for my political views too often. There are many good political blogs out there, and I see no reason to join their ranks. But at the risk of sounding unpatriotic and "letting the terrorists win," I'm going to indulge my First Amendment right to freedom of speech.
I'm not a fan of the war in Iraq. For a wide variety of reasons, ranging from I think we could spend 400 billion dollars in much more productive ways to some good old-fashioned paranoia about the Patriot Act and the role of government should have in the average citizen's life. But if you had to ask me why I hate the war in Iraq, I'd show you this picture:
Or perhaps this one:
Or perhaps this one, which is the most recent one I have:
This is my little brother, EJ. And I know the fact that he's 22 means that he no longer qualifies as "my baby brother," but I did teach him to tie his shoelaces! He's a Sergeant First Class in the United States Army, and I'm incredibly proud of him.
He called Sunday night with bad news. I've been expecting it for several months, but I still didn't want to hear it. He's "going on a road trip with Uncle Sam to Iraq" again, and he's leaving the 21st. And you'd think that after nearly six years of "The War on Terror" on the nightly news, four years of having him in the Army, and two tours of combat duty, I'd be less worried.
But I'm not. Iraq is not a pretty place right now, and the idea of people shooting at my brother is not one I want to ponder.
After getting wounded last summer, and going through months of grueling rehab, EJ's ecstatic to be able to be serving with "his boys" once more. He told me, "I don't want to be one of those people who lives to be 90 and realizes, "Man, I've never done anything." I want to do something with my life, and I think this is it." And if I believe that God called me into nursing, then I have to believe that God can call my brother into the Army and rejoice with him in finding his purpose. But I really just want him to go there, do what he has to do, and come back safe.
God of All,
Please watch over the troops.
Ours, theirs, everybody's.
Bless them all--I'm not picky.
Give them a boring war.
One without the need for heroism.
Or posthumous medals.
Or brave acts of self-sacrifice.
Make them instruments of Your peace
In spite of their job description.
Give them Your wisdom,
To best know how to mend this broken world.
Please comfort the bereaved
And gather up the fallen in Your loving arms--
Regardless of color, creed, or ideology.
Watch over the troops, Lord.
Until Your children finally
Learn to stop killing each other in Your name.