Recently I was fortunate to meet Amber Card who is one of the students in a Survey of American Literature course I attend on Tuesday evenings at the Manchester, New Hampshire branch of Granite State College. Like myself, Amber is taking the course as a core requirement of a Language Arts Degree. She is also intending to achieve teaching certification as part of her education.
One evening before class I took the opportunity to interview her as a military veteran and as a continuing educational student at Granite State. She shared with me some of the daunting facts about her enlistment and her tour of duty. Amber participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom II. She was deployed from December 7, 2003 - March 2, 2005. During this time she worked as a Motor Transportation Specialist where she drove 5 tons, semi-tractor trailers and humvees. She pulled security for convoys, delivered supplies to troops including mail, food, and ammo. She also pulled security for the base and transported troops. Amber was also a Mortuary Affairs Specialist.
She briefly shared with me her thoughts and feelings about her military service. "I wouldn't necessarily change it but it was a very hard experience at 21 to absorb. It made me grow up very quickly and realize what was important in my life. I had to set new priorities."
When I said the word "horrible" and asked her about her immediate thoughts she said, " It was very real and you had to take the good with the bad. Five of my friends died over there and I'll never forget it but there's not a day that goes by that I don't appreciate what I have and realize what my friends gave up for me. That's why I feel I always push myself to go the extra mile.
Lastly, I asked Amber about her most significant experience. To this she replied, "Is when we had just moved into Iraq from Kuwait and within 24 hours our base got attacked and we lost someone and several were injured. It really changes your perspective right off the bat!"
Since my interview with Amber I listen more closely to everything she has to say in class. Immediately I notice the difference in the attention and detail she gives to the learning process. She speaks with such devotion and compassion about the children she will someday soon be teaching upon graduation from Granite State College this June. She is also pregnant with her second child, a boy. And one thing I do know for sure about Amber: She values life. She also values education and children.
Though I am much older than Amber I am humbled by her maturity and all that she has experienced in her very young life. Experience when it does not kill us most certainly makes some of us stronger. I am a better person for having met Amber and learned about her past life and her future goals. As a woman among many she stands tall and proud in my eyes.