As much as I wanted to send a little bit of home to a deserving member of our dedicated and heroic armed forces, ask anyone who knows me and they'll tell you how uber-careful I am about letting people (not just strangers mind you, but anyone) into the inner circle of my family's life.
I figure with two daughter's and a wife with some media presence, I'm well within my rights to err on the side of caution when it comes to their safety -- even in my small town.
Selfish, I know. Paranoid, probably. Careful to a fault, you bet.
Fortunately for us and our desire to participate in the homefront efforts, we do know of a young Marine who is currently in Iraq.
He is the nephew of the lady who is the niece of the woman that owns the house next door to us but is currently in a nursing home.
This 23-year old U.S. citizen was living in Australia when the fighting broke out, moved back to the States to enlist, and spent the final 3 months of wearing civies living in the storage room/converted to living quarters attached to the large garage behind our neighbor's house.
We didn't get to know him all that well since he was young and mobile and always seemed to be coming or going somewhere during his short time as a resident of my small town.
I did talk to him once or twice about nothing in particular, along with several requisite "male-upward-head-jerk" silent greetings across the driveway.
But once I heard that he had enlisted in the Marines and was going down to Camp Pendleton, California for his basic training, I told him about a few good places to eat and hang out at nearby Oceanside (where my Dad retired to), where a supposedly sweet and secretive surfing spot is located nearby the San Onofre Nuclear power plant, along with the proper procedures for prepping his car for long term storage.
After getting regular updates on his status and whereabouts from his Aunt, we decided it was time to put together a CARE package to send to the lad. Some research online revealed a bevy of information on what specifically our G.I's in the Iraqi theater needed/wanted and off we went shopping with our list.
While in line at WalMart, the cashier took a quick stock of our purchases and knowingly commented that they too had been shipping items to a loved one serving in the war.
I used this site as a starting point, but ended up gathering tidbits of info from various personal sites of family and webbies who had loved ones serving -- from first hand experience, they posted more specific recommendations on brand names, sizes, quantities, etc.
The strangest thing I found myself purchasing and sending were several tins of Copenhagen snuff. According to an online resource...
We recently heard from the Marine's aunt that he would be rotating stateside for 7-months at the end of October and would be stopping into town for a visit. I told her to tell him that a gigantic rib-eye dinner would be awaiting him at our house anytime he wanted...after he got settled in.
Just hope he makes it back.