I had the opportunity to visit a friend, a great friend. I always believed that it was important to be around great people who would have a positive impact on my life. I always thought that greatness was equal to position, rank, or prominence. However, it was not until recently that I understood who “great” people are. The past few years I have felt a lot of loneliness, a personal isolation of sorts; a void, like an emotional black hole. I have never had many friends because I held certain beliefs that served as discriminators against people. Basically, if you had certain habits or qualities, I did not want to interact with certain people in any way other than a professional or minor social way. It was not that I was too good, I was just image conscience. The rank structure of the Army doesn’t help much either, as was the case with Alex.
However, after visiting Alex and his family this weekend I found that life experience has changed my views as to what constitutes "great." To begin with, Alex is a war buddy, the best kind of friend you can have. After all, we have been through some crap together. Friendship in the Army is tough. He was a subordinate (purely in rank only, as a person he is much better than I) and because of that it made it difficult to call him a “friend.” He was one hell of a Soldier and because of that we were always in the thick of it together and we have a bond; remember, always be surrounded with great people.
He is out of the Army now and I am proud to say we are friends. I wish that I could surround myself with more people like him. We stayed up late into the night talking about Mosul, Iraq and the Battle of Baghdad, as well as, the others we served with. Sure enough, every event he brought up, bad and good, we were there together at times right next to each other. We did a lot of laughing. Some things the average person, or mildly insane, would not laugh at; like the unique sound of brains sizzling as they dripped on the metal of a car after the fire had been put out and a friend of ours “Foots Mahoney” who I will not even begin to describe.
I was sad to leave since I do not have many friends and he is clearly one of the best. True friendship, since he knows the other side of me, and I of him. War changes people and the friendships that are developed are true friendships. I now truly understand Aristotle’s concept of virtuous friendship which is roughly “I will do for you for your sake, and you do for me for my sake.” We share common experiences that others have not and cannot even begin to understand.
Thank you Alex (and of course Megan for letting me invade your house) I feel as though some of the void has been filled. Most important of all, I am proud that he calls me a friend. I only wish we lived closer.