Something has been missing on Fairbanks streets for a long time, and it has finally returned. Everywhere I turned I saw healthy, physically fit and well sun-tanned young people wearing army BDUs. (Battle Dress Uniforms).
At the barber shop, well off post, were men in BDUs. The family ahead of me in line consisted of a young woman, a young boy, and a proud young man in BDUs celebrating his return by being a part of his son's first haircut. Waiting their turns were 3 others, none really needing a haircut, in fact two of the three had hair so short once couldn't be certain of the color, but they are back, returning to the routine of everyday life.
There were BDUs at the feed store, BDUs at Sam's Club, BDUs at the library and plenty of BDUs at the sandwich shop where I bought lunch. There were BDUs with insignias of high rank and low. Some were tall and some were short, all were remarkably thing. Most were tanned or a bit sunburned. Another thing they all had in common was a smiling, friendly apparently happy person inside.
Fairbanks is a military town, and has been for a long, long time. My Grandfather once walked these streets wearing his BDUs (they were called "fatigues" back then). I though about him more than once as I saw yet another person wearing BDUs buying groceries, looking for the correct book, or just hanging out with his (or her) wife and family.
I don't always have a high degree of appreciation for our local GIs, especially when I encounter them out on the trail. They don't always remember proper trail etiquette and their need for speed on snowmachines or four-wheelers isn't always compatible with my need to keep my dogs safe and happy.
I wasn't thinking about those things while I was looking at BDUs the other day, though. I was honestly glad to see that they have returned safely 'home' from their deployment. They have stories to tell, and they aren't all stories of doom and gloom. "It was a lot better, a lot easier this time." two different G.I.s have told me, and I believe them. I only hope and yes, I pray, their doesn't have to be a 3rd deployment of our Arctic Wolves.
Thank you for service, ladies and gentlemen. Now, please slow that damned snow machine down when you are on dog mushing trails