Here at home in our shops, plants and offices, we go about our business, doing our jobs as usual. Yet we know that far away, others too are doing their jobs, jobs that are far more difficult, demanding and dangerous. For them, almost nothing has the comfort of routine.
Here at home, we strive to keep our machines and equipment running in good order. Service items must be attended to. Repairs have to be taken care of. The occasional balky computer must be dealt with.
Yet we know that far away, others struggle to maintain vehicles and weapons in harsh, unpredictable conditions. There, the subtle imperfections and imperceptible errors in even the most advanced technology pose their own inexorable risk—often a lethal one.
Here at home, we greet our coworkers each morning as we unconsciously enter the complex web of relationships and perceptions that invisibly guide our interactions in the workplace. We intuitively factor in the varying levels of competence, cooperation and courtesy that will characterize our dealings. Meetings will happen.
Yet we know that far away, others rely on a deep, unspoken bond—one that exists only among those who fight side by side. The diversity among them is neither concealed nor neutralized but canceled out entirely by the uniform of their service. There are only eyes that see other eyes, and the eyes all have the same look, transcending hope, trust and fear.
Here at home, for most of us, the day cleaves into separate worlds of work and non-work. The domain of family, pets, hobbies and household matters creates balance—or at least contrast. We have beds. Yet we know that far away, others are on duty. This duty is abiding and unremitting; it absorbs both sleeping and waking hours.
Here at home, we may question and debate. Here at home, we may express earnest opinions and heartfelt reservations. Here at home, grave doubts may compete with strong convictions. Yet we know that far away, those others have an incontestable claim to nothing less than our sincerest respect and our highest regard.
They served. We watched.
In the long stretch ahead, the challenge for us here at home is to stay watchful and attentive. For far away, others will continue to serve in our name. They will serve doggedly—if imperfectly. They must be undeterred by the scrutiny of a hypercritical and hypocritical world. They must know that they have the confidence and gratitude of us at home.