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Bulletproof Me

January 15, 2011

Erik left for Iraq this morning. We got up at 3:00 AM and dropped him at Logan in Boston. The sun was still asleep.

Logan at Dawn

Sasha, my daughter, rode in the back because I get car sick in a rear seat and Erik drove. He’s my son-in-law. He drives now.

We made small talk and laughed about silly family stuff from the night before – masking the anxiety and bolstering our courage.

Last night Sasha and Erik joined me at Pine Point along with his mother, his dad, his dad’s current wife and Erik’s sister. We had risotto with a salad, some nice bread and a glass or two of wine. Erik doesn’t drink so he had water.

I had a nice fire going with some music (harp guitar, I think) and after dinner we chatted while he checked through his bags: camera, recorder, shot-gun microphone, tripod, body armor.

What?

Yeah, body armor. If you’ve never held a Type IV Ballistic Vest, I don’t recommend it. In the abstract it’s pretty cool. You know, Kevlar and ceramic plates that can stop a .30-06 Springfield M2 armor piercing bullet cold its tracks?

If the weight isn’t enough to scare you, though, the thought of why someone you love would be wearing it is.

Erik is a soldier of a different order. He’s the self-proclaimed Last Print Journalist. Words are his weapon of choice and reporting … just reporting … is his crusade.

Erik is off to somewhere with an unpronounceable name in Iraq (you, know, the war we won?) to hang out with some folks (kids, actually)  from the New Hampshire National Guard and send back their stories to New Hampshire Public Radio. I’d thought he was going to Afghanistan.

It gets so confusing. If someone showed you a map of the middle east without names on it, could you point out the countries? Go ahead. Try it.

He’s not hunting for clandestine operations or looking to expose corruption with military contractors. He’s just consumed with letting the rest of us know what a few good people are doing on a daily basis in a place we never think about unless a friend or relative happens to be there and might be dead tomorrow.

As we departed and he walked into the terminal, we waived. Sasha blew him a kiss.

He shouted, “Thanks,” and strode off into the darkness of the British Airways departure terminal.

I could see the outline of his Kevlar helmet pushing on the fabric of his bag. He was scared. He’d never show it. That’s just the way he is.

Sasha wept a bit as we rode through Revere back north toward Pine Point, then gathered her great resources and waxed stoic.

“He’ll be fine,” she said.

“You bet he will,” I agreed.

As the sun rose blood orange over Broad Sound, I came to realize that which I’d known for a long time, but had never articulated. Erik is my son-in-law and I love him for that; but more importantly, Erik is someone I admire.

He’s only interested in reporting the simple facts of horrible situations in an honest and straightforward manner that’s devoid of spin. He’s content that the rest of us can come to conclusions if we have the facts. His passion lies not espousing a cause someone else has defined, but in giving us the raw information we require to define our own opinions.

Erik is a reporter. He’s bulletproof.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Daughter permalink
    January 15, 2011 3:17 pm

    Nice posted Dad. Thanks for keeping me company on the ride. I only beg to differ on the assertion of fear. Erik continually amazes me for lots or reasons, in particular is keen ability to differentiate fear from danger. We spend a lot of time hanging off cliffs and Erik always reminds me there are climbs that are scary and climbs that dangerous. On the car ride to Maine yesterday he said I have no interest in K2, I don’t want to die. Likewise I have no interest in listening to mortars falling around me with the hope I don’t get hit.

    Let’s hope Iraq at this moment in history meets Erik’s expectation of a considerable challenge with moderate risk and not the K2 of reporting.

  2. January 17, 2011 12:27 am

    Can’t imagine what that experience would feel like Cris….to be able to support him and Sasha and still be terrified. I would need to give voice to that terror. You are a good father-in-law and daddy my friend. I will keep him and Sasha in my thoughts. Thanks for sharing this. B

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