USA — Family Matters Blog: Blogger Notes Appreciation for Troops

WASHINGTON — I spent a good bit of time in the U.S. Embassy while in Iraq last week­end with Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, which I wrote about ear­li­er this week in “My Inde­pen­dence Day Week­end in Iraq With Dr. Biden.”

Stryker combat vehicle
Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Biden, receives a tour of a Stryk­er com­bat vehi­cle from Army Sgt. Jed Glover while vis­it­ing with troops from the 2nd Infantry Division’s, 4th Stryk­er Brigade Com­bat Team on Camp Vic­to­ry, Iraq, July 4, 2010.
DoD pho­to by Elaine Wil­son
Click to enlarge

In a rare moment of down­time, I joined Dr. Biden and her staff in the Embassy gift shop.

In a quest for sou­venirs for my chil­dren, I pur­chased one of the only items for kids: a stuffed duck with a T‑shirt that said “Duck and Cov­er.”

And that’s exact­ly what I had done the night before, three times, while in my room at the embassy. I was typ­ing a sto­ry on my com­put­er when the call came over the loud­speak­er: “duck and cov­er.” There was a threat of indi­rect fire, the voice said, and peo­ple were sup­posed to either rush to a room with­out win­dows or, if walk­ing out­side, duck into one of sev­er­al bunkers along the side­walk.

At the first warn­ing, I ran into a win­dow­less room, slight­ly pan­icked, and wait­ed it out until the all clear sound­ed. Although I did­n’t hear any­thing, mor­tar explo­sions had been heard, accord­ing to lat­er news reports. I took a slow­er pace at the sec­ond warn­ing and by the third, at 4:45 a.m., I was so exhaust­ed I ducked under a blan­ket rather than back into the win­dow­less room.

That day, else­where in Iraq, there was a dead­ly sui­cide bomber attack and anoth­er that wound­ed two Iraqi police offi­cers.

These inci­dents served as anoth­er reminder of the fact that our troops, and many civil­ians, are under the threat of attack each day in Iraq and Afghanistan. Whether in com­bat or not, all put them­selves in harm’s way just by serv­ing there.

Upon my return, my kids were thrilled to get the stuffed ducks that had trav­eled all the way from Iraq, but are still too young to catch the tongue-in-cheek humor of the “Duck and Cov­er” on those lit­tle black T‑shirts.

I went to sleep last night in my own bed, with­out the con­cern of incom­ing attacks or a “duck and cov­er” sound­ing over a loud­speak­er. But I’ll nev­er be able to look at those stuffed ducks, perched now on my children’s desks, with­out remem­ber­ing that night and the sac­ri­fice our mil­i­tary mem­bers and civil­ian employ­ees make each day on behalf of all Amer­i­cans.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)