Modern technology amazes me. Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak with someone on the phone. That experience in and of itself is completely common these days. However, this person was a close friend who is serving in the military in Afghanistan. The technology used is not even ground-breaking or cutting edge either, but it is still incredible to me that a person can have a clear conversation with someone on the other side of the world.
My father served in the Korean War. After saying goodbye to my mother and leaving from San Francisco on a ship, they did not get the chance to speak again for around 6 months. They did not see each other again for almost a year. It would have been a much longer time frame if my father hadn’t been wounded and eventually sent back to the United States. Imagine being a wife and receiving a Western Union telegram telling you that your husband has been seriously wounded in action. After receiving the telegram, you hear nothing for weeks, not knowing if your husband is dead or alive. My mother still keeps the telegram she received. The two exchanged letters as much as possible, although even that form of communication was not easy to rely on. It took the letters weeks and even months to catch up to my dad, as his unit fought in different actions and then he was moved around to several hospitals. To this day he has several of those letters that did not catch up to him until he was back at home, recovering. Those letters remain unopened, and are powerful symbols and artifacts worth preserving just as they are.
My friend in Afghanistan talks to his wife regularly. Not just on the phone either, he talks to her face to face using internet based video chat. Nothing will ever replace being able to touch someone and be able to give them a hug. However, it has to be such a huge blessing in the lives of service members to be able to see their loved ones face to face. It makes me wonder what artifacts museums will preserve that are related to wartime family communications during this generation. Will it be webcams? How about cell phones and laptops? Regardless, let’s all make sure to be thankful for modern technology and the amazing things that are commonplace in our lives because of it. God bless our troops serving overseas.