PV2 Pete's Journey for Help is a look-see at the thoughts and heart of a young soldier who returned to Iowa from deployment to Afghanistan. He is facing some real struggles integrating into "normalcy:. His story, while unique, is one that many of the 2,800 that deployed in July of 2010 and returned home the summer of 2011 are experiencing in one form or another.
It had been several weeks since I'd been to Panera Bread. But it was that time again. A meeting with PV2 Pete. I was ready to sample the homey feeling, the sights, sounds and smells of our neighborhood eatery. And so was Pete, fresh off his trip to South Carolina and the Republican Primary. He looked the part of a political junkie...ready to unload all that he'd been through.
I laughed to myself as we stood in line waiting to place our order. Pete was a bundle of nervousness. He was wound so tight.....so excited, he could hardly contain himself. "Should I ask if you had a good time in South Carolina?", I inquired. "Did you learn anything special about yourself or politics in general". "Sir, you won't believe the time I had", he started. "I learned so much about people and their agendas, but I also found out alot about myself. More than I ever could have imagined", he continued.
We got our food and sat down to devour some delicious greenery. Word after word came from Pete's lips. So much, that he was having a hard time eating his meal. Talking was more important to him at the moment than food. I, on the other hand, listened intently, munching on a great garden salad. Suddenly, I felt the urge to at least say something. "Go ahead, tell me more", I said.
"You can't believe the energy that exists around a primary", Pete suggested. "I spent a little over a week traveling the state of South Carolina telling people about Rick Santorum. Everywhere I went, people treated me with respect. They listened to what we were saying and I think we got part of our message through. But in the end, I'm mystified by the final results. I mean, look, Newt Gingrich got 40%, Mitt Romney had 27%, Santorum did 17% and Ron Paul came in at 13%. When we first got down in South Carolina, people were talking about a Romney walk-away. Then all heck broke loose. I'm still amazed Gingrich got 40% after all he went through with his former wife's TV interview about wanting an "open marriage. Gosh."
I nodded at Pete and shook my head in disbelief as well. "Sir. You know what? Here is the big revelation I learned in traveling down South. I don't care if it's in life or in politics, I want the truth. That's what I saw being overlooked so much during the primary. I heard so much diatribe from Gingrich and Romney and Paul where the truth was nowhere to be found. I know as a supporter of Santorum's it would be easy to overlook his negatives....but frankly, I see him as such an honest, hard-working man of integrity. Speaking the truth, too, mind you".
I must say, I didn't feel the least bit compelled to interpret my young friend. He'd found something out. I wanted to make sure he knew I was tuned in. "And?", I questioned.
"I've prayed about this alot in the last couple of days. I'm asking for truth in this election. Not only in the Republican fight as to who their candidate is going to be, but in the general election this November. There is so much garbage to sort through. So much fabrication, so much "spin zone" going on. Truthfully, I think, Senator Santorum is a man people can trust. As the days continue on this trail, I hope the lies become more visible to the American people and they give Santorum a chance. We need someone to believe in. Someone who stands for the principles this country was founded on. I think he's the man. Let me list off the prime people and as I do, think about each person and the image you have in hearing their name. Obama. Gingrich. Romney. Paul. Santorum".
"Son, you are dead on", I exclaimed. "We should be praying fervently for the truth to be revealed. The focus shouldn't be on anything but that. As you were talking, my mind kept wandering to the proper Bible verse that we could read that would increase our wisdom during these times. And here's what came to mind":
Luke 16:10 - "Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much."
On that note, the two of us pulled ourselves out of the booth. "Pete", I said. I'm not sure who learns more when we connect. But I do know one thing. You've grown leaps in the last several weeks. And that's the truth, so help me God".
On further reflection, this hit me. We're closing in on nine months until the general election. You've no doubt heard some of the Presidential hopefuls speak of this being "a crucial time in our country's history". That's if you believe them. Shouldn't the truth be what saves us from another four years of struggle and discouragement? Is there perhaps a little irony that nine months are left? If the seed of truth is planted, watered and cared for, there is no telling how great our future might be. If not.....
Do you remember Jack Nicholson in the movie, "A Few Good Men"? Here's a lead into his classic line.........