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Let's take his lead



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June 08, 2011 - By Joe St. Henry

Amid all of the complaining lately in this community about our schools, budgets, downtown construction, the economy and gas prices, I think we all could use a dose of perspective from my neighbor, Orion Township resident Rob Frazer, a Major in the U.S. Army.

The wars in the Middle East some 6,000 miles way got a whole lot closer when Rob came home Memorial Day weekend on leave after spending the past nine months in Kuwait, with periodic trips into Iraq. He returns to his job a half world away this week after spending some much-need time with his wife Kelly, three kids, family and friends. I know it was not easy for him to leave again. Fortunately, he is expected to complete his tour in September.

I stopped by his house last Saturday to say hi and catch up. We talked about our kids, the mice that nested in his Mustang convertible while he has been gone, and possibly camping next summer. I invited him to a neighborhood cookout that night.

I am sure Rob has some interesting stories about his deployment - sights and sounds in the middle of a war zone which the vast majority of us simply cannot comprehend, aside from what we read and see in the news. But I figure those stories can wait until later, maybe when he comes home for good, if he ever wants to share them. This visit was a time to simply enjoy his brief trip home.

More than once he mentioned how much his kids had grown. Watching his youngest son ride a two-wheeler down the driveway, Rob lamented missing the milestone while he was gone. My kids are older and I could only tell him there will be many more special moments that he will not miss.

Later that night, Rob said that when he does return home for good he hopes he never loses the perspective he has gained over the past several months. He laughs now when he hears people complaining about seemingly innocuous aggravations compared to what he and his fellow servicemen and women have sacrificed and endured serving their country in a war zone. Rob said hopes to come home and never let the little things in life bother him again.

I know our community is dealing with a lot of changes these days -- some of them which may have long-lasting impact. But we all need to keep them in perspective.

After all, nobody is plotting to blow up our cars as we drive down Lapeer Road each day. None of us, other than the service personnel from our community, are living in another world away from our loved ones and disconnected from their lives. Nobody is trying to kill us because we may have different political views, or thoughts on how our schools should be run, than our neighbors.

Rob told me this morning that five more U.S. soldiers from Camp Victory in Iraq recently lost their lives. He knows firsthand the heartache this will bring, for part of his army job stateside is to notify families of the worst news possible and help them with arrangements.

Maybe a dose of real stress -- and the perspective that comes with it -- is just what the doctor would order for all of us to regain our appreciation for what we all do have living in Lake Orion.

Through his service to our country and the deep sacrifices his wife and children have made, your neighbor U.S. Army Major Rob Frazer has grown to understand this. Let's take his lead.

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