A Helmet is a Helmet is a Helmet. But is it?
When the Federal Express truck pulls up in front of the house, I have to say that I never even think about it. I'm embarrassed to say that I never even think about anything other than the fact that something that I am expecting has arrived. It is sort of like Christmas and all I can think about is my new . . . well . . . The doorbell rings and when I answer it, the man in the purple and black uniform hands me a 12" x 12" x 12" box. It is a perfect cube. I shake it and it makes a loud thumping sound from something heavy in it. I walk it over to the counter and set it down and then walked over to the drawer and pulled out a cheap steak knife. I cut at the tape and unfold the top of the box. I am so excited I don't even notice Marlo, my wife, walk up next to me. As I open the box, there it is. It is the Kevlar helmet that I had just purchased. It is a desert tan. I reach in and lift it out of the box. It is heavy. I am still so focused I don't see my wife's face. You see, while I had worn just such a helmet in the past, in Iraq, Kosovo, and other war zone, this is the first that my wife has seen it. I guess it brings the war and my work directly into our home. You see, I'm preparing to leave for Iraq in just a couple of weeks. But this time, I have to acquire all of the equipment I need before I leave. So, the helmet, jacket, nomax fire retardant flight suit, are all on their way to the house. Each bringing the reality into view. Now, I've been there before but the news has recently been brutal and every time I pick up the paper, turn on the computer, listen to the radio, or watch the news, I shake my head. Marlo can barely watch. Of course, I'm not shocked. I try to shield her but the news seeps in from all directions. It makes me feel a bit like a failure. I turn to her and see her face. I put down the helmet and apologize. And her response is what I have come to expect. She says, "I guess this is how soldiers' wives feel." I don't know what to say. I am so excited that I don't think. What an idiot I am. Of course, I'm aware of the danger and that some of it is out of my control. But sometimes, as I prepare, I miss the most important things. As she stands next to me, what is important demands my attention. I put the helmet back in the box, close the lid and walk it down in the basement. I put it next to the backpack and sleeping bag. I can deal with it later. There is enough to deal with in this house before I leave. Because as the time gets closer for my departure, I need to confirm my plane tickets through London into Kuwait. And from there, I will work my way into Iraq. Of course, between now and then, there is a lot to do.