By Graham Glover –
It happens like clockwork every time a new class of Privates arrives to my Battalion – cries for home. The majority of these young men navigate their way through Infantry Basic Training with hardly a tear shed for the comforts of home, but for some, the separation is too much to handle. Similar experiences occur when Soldiers deploy to a warzone. Separated from their loved ones for 9-15 months at a time, some for multiple deployments over as many years, it’s no wonder that homesickness manifests itself among America’s finest.
Most of us have been homesick at some point in our life – our first sleepover at a friend’s house, an overnight camp, moving away to college, etc. But when I write “There’s no place like home”, I’m not talking about being homesick for our parents, our friends, or simply for what is comfortable. Like Basic Training, these separations are a necessary part of life that helps individuals to mature, learning about ourselves and the world around us. Rather, I have in mind something much more significant. When I write of the importance of home, I mean a place and a community that gives one a sense of belonging and identity. That is our home. And there really is no place like it.
I’ve written before about how much I love my home (click here for article), so there’s no need to elaborate on the greatness that is Gainesville, Florida! I hope that you feel the same about your hometown – whether it is where you were born, grew up, or now reside. The point is that one’s home should mean something. Whether or not you want to admit it, your home shapes a large part of who you are. Ideally, it resembles in some way what you seek to become. For one’s home isn’t just the walls that make up your house, it is the community in which you work, go to school, and live. And without a home – without a community – we are an aimless and purposeless group of individuals floating through life.
Our homes matter. Our homes matter a lot. They matter because we are a communal people. We are not merely individuals.
If we ignore them, our homes – our communities, or even place our interests ahead of theirs, then we fail to grasp the magnitude of their importance. We talk in this country a lot about giving everyone an equal chance at life – an equal opportunity. We are concerned (perhaps more than we ought) about our individual rights and freedoms. But seldom do we talk about the equality of communities – the importance of our communal rights and freedoms. But it is these communities – these homes – that shape our worldviews. They are the wellsprings of opportunities for our respective vocations, without which we would amount to very little.
I know it is ironic that someone serving on Active Duty is writing about the importance of home and community. My family has lived in 3 cities (2 countries) and 4 houses over the past 6 ½ years. (This doesn’t include my year in Iraq.) We will move again in 9 short months. If we make a career of the military, we can expect to move every 2-3 years for the next 15-20 years. Not exactly an ideal conduit to the notion of home. This prospect is not at all lost on my wife and me. We talk about it frequently and wish for many reasons that our children might experience the joys of the community we grew up in. To be fair, the Army has its own home – its own community, even if it is ever changing. The question we face is which community is more ideal not only for our individual desires, but for our family, both now and in the years to come.
The authors who contribute to The Jagged Word come from different places. Our homes, both now and in years past, are as wide and varied as the things we write about. I’m not sure how all of my colleagues on this blog feel about their home, but I think they all find value in them. They certainly resemble them in their writings, as I’m sure the readers resemble theirs.
My point today is really simple: to find value in your home, to place its needs above your own, and in so doing, to cherish your heritage as you take stock in the communities which will shape your future
So here’s a mid-week cheer to our respective homes! There’s simply no place like them!