Kyle wiped another tear and responded with, "Ok.  I will talk to you guys later."  He hung up the phone and took a deep breath.  He promised himself that he wasn't going to cry anymore and dried his eyes before walking back into the gym.

Minutes later, the buses taking them to the departure point were parked outside of the gym.  Even though the deploying soldiers were not leaving at the moment, the atmosphere inside became more solemn.  The officer in charge announced, "Everyone, let me get your attention.  We will start loading the buses in an hour to head toward the plane.  There are some sandwiches and meals still available thanks to the volunteers from the Fort Stewart Military Wives association."  Many soldiers grabbed extra meals and snacks in preparation for travel for an unknown amount of time.  

Spouses grabbed their loved ones a little tighter and crying was heard throughout the gym while Soldiers consoled their families.  Some of the Soldiers who were not deploying, came to hang out with their buddies that were departing.  It was heartbreaking and awe-inspiring at the same time to see the love and support.

Kyle saw that Raven was calling him, but he wasn't ready to talk to her yet.  He wanted to save that phone call when he arrived at the airplane boarding site.  He sat next to his parents and engaged in random talk and jokes.  He was glad to see his mom smiling and his dad laying off of the military jargon and advice.  

Kyle told his dad during the conversation, "You know what I want when I get back, right?  I want a bottle of Crown Royal and some chicken wings in your hands when I get off the plane."  

In his typical smart aleck fashion, his dad replied, "You better send some of that tax-free money before you place your order, little Lieutenant."  The three of them laughed and continued to converse until it was time to leave.

One of the local government officials approached the microphone that was on a small decorated stage in the gym and introduced herself before thanking the Soldiers and their families for "serving our great nation unselfishly".  An uneasy feeling was in Kyle's stomach because it meant that it was time to start loading the buses and saying goodbyes.  She was followed by the Commanding General of Fort Stewart who gave a similar message, but it was more motivational and rehearsed.  A chaplain from one of the local units led a quick prayer after the General's remarks.  The final speaker to hit the stage was the officer in charge who told everyone to get ready to leave in five minutes.

A flurry of emotions could be seen amongst the crowd of Soldiers and supporters in the gym.  The officer in charge, who was sympathetic to those who were about to deploy, still had a job to do and called the troops to fall in formation.  The time to say goodbye was over, and the move toward Iraq was officially beginning.  The Fort Stewart Band Detachment starting playing a festive march as the soldiers were instructed to walk to the buses. Cameras flashed, and families waved signs and cheered.

The Soul’s Motivation (Excerpt)

By Dante D. Long

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