The Other Side of Paradise, Part 2

12/07/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

As I put my laundry into one of the machines, I noticed one of the NCO's that hadn't been very visible during the day. As he begin to walk out of the building, I called out to him. Passing through the two crudely crafted plywood doors, I turned the corner to find him waiting for me.

"What's up?" He stood with his back to the sun, adjusting his feet on the baseball size gravel that covered all of the ground on the fire base.

"I noticed you didn't say much earlier."

"The guys have their opinions. It's definitely interesting." He smiled and then chuckled.

"And what about you? How are you feeling about the election?"

"The media seems to be focusing on the fact that he is a black President. It has never been about race for me."

He continued, "I looked at each candidate for what I thought would be best for the country. I felt Obama had a better approach for the country and what we are facing. Black candidates of the past have had black agendas. I felt Obama was speaking to all of America."

The Staff Sergeant's focus then shifted, "People get wrapped around the person who is President. But he can only do so much. We need to be focusing on the legislation that comes from the Democrats and Republicans we elect to Congress. They affect America more. Obama can come in and push an agenda, but if the Congress doesn't buy off on it, nothing will happen."

As we talked I asked the Staff Sergeant about some of the discussions that had been happening throughout the day.

He chuckled again. "It definitely keeps things interesting. You just can't take things too seriously over here. It will mess you up." Then he added, "But if there is anything I take away from this, it is that change is fearful."

Later that evening I ran into the Staff Sergeant again. He invited me into his room where he had been watching a movie on his laptop.

"People back in the States voiced their opinions by voting. We had the chance to vote, but by the time the ballots got here and would have arrived back home, it would have been too late. But we have our opinions."

As we sat and talked he reiterated his thoughts from earlier in the day, "For me the greater importance is who is in the Congress. Obama is just a man and can only do so much."

As I got up to leave, he smiled and finished with these words, "In the end the team is still together. We have our opinions and we support whoever is President. In the end it is always mission first."

With that we said good-night.