Love, War, and Distance

Love, War, and Distance

By Kim Godwin – Owl Staff Writer

This article was originally published in PGCC’s student newspaper, the Owl.

With the inevitable approach of a war with Iraq and a possible new conflict with North Korea, many active duty and Reservist Military members are being deployed overseas. As always with deployment comes the question of how a relationship with a military person can last while they are away from 6 months to a year of deployment. If you’re married to a military person, it’s more likely that you will remain faithful and wait, but if you are only dating or engaged to the person, it is much more difficult to do. Could you be faithful and wait?

I cannot answer that question for other people but I know from personal experience that I can. I have been dating a Marine on active duty, long before he enlisted in the Corps last February. When he enlisted, we sat down and discussed what we would do: would we break up or would we still date one another despite the fact that he’d be in boot camp for 3 months?

After much discussion, we decided that we’d stay together, but I was terrified that I’d be replaced somehow. I told him my fears and he promised me that he’d come back to me. We wrote back and forth throughout the entire duration of boot camp. I actually drove down to see his graduation from boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina. Coincidentally, the day he graduated from boot camp was the day that marked our first anniversary.

After the challenge of boot camp passed a new problem came: He had been stationed at Camp Lejuene, North Carolina. Again we sat down and discussed what we would do and it was decided that we were too stubborn to give up on each other. We continued to write back and forth and now, he tried to call me at least once a week. This time around he also came back to visit me whenever he got leave. We tried to spend as much time together as possible and then, in November, came the news that his battalion would be deployed to Okinawa, Japan for 6 months starting at the beginning of December. This new development would make it difficult to keep in contact with him and make it nearly impossible for him to come home and visit. Despite the distance, we have been keeping in touch and he has tried to call me at least once a week. The time difference has resulted in a couple of 3 a.m. phone calls, but he’s still managed to catch me at home by calling me at 5 or 6 a.m. Eastern Standard time.

The story isn’t over yet, but we’re doing what we can to make our relationship live. In the year that I have been in this long distance relationship, many people, both male and female, have told me that they could not wait and wait through a long distance relationship. I was also told that “long-distance relationships never work.” Making a long distance relationship work takes a lot of patience, willpower, trust, and depth of commitment to the person. I agree that if the relationship is one-sided, (meaning only one person is trying to make the relationship last) that it cannot and will not survive the distance nor time. I feel that the relationship will only work if there is a conscious effort on both sides to make it work — both people involved talk or write often and completely trust one another. My advice to anyone in the same situation as me is to not give up and discuss your fears and concerns with the person you are dating. If you feel that you cannot talk to the person, then it probably isn’t meant to be and it would be best for you to break up. Remember breaking up doesn’t mean that you can’t still be friends and still keep in touch.

Keeping in contact is the best thing that anyone can do to keep any relationship alive. And believe it or not, letters from home are the most treasured things that a military person on deployment can get from home. Unfortunately, there is nothing more heart-wrenching than getting a letter from home saying, “Dear John, I’ve found someone else…” It’s a fear that many people have when they are away and sadly, it is one that often comes true, causing many soldiers to break down into tears.

Artwork by Kimberly Godwin featuring lyrics by The Calling. “Wherever you will go” – originally published in Prince George’s Community College “Reflections: Literary and Arts Magazine, Spring 2002, page 93”