I don’t know what made me pick up the paper this morning. Usually it sits in the driveway for a day before I bring it in and pitch it straight to the recycle bin. However, in the bustle of getting the kids loaded and buckled, I not only picked it up, I opened it while my husband backed out of the garage. The article on the front bottom corner caught my eye – “Colonel won’t be home for Christmas”. >>Link to full article<< I scanned the first few lines and immediately recognized the Colonel’s name, so I began reading – out loud – to my husband as we drove toward the front gate.
As we passed the base lake, Ryan, my husband, interrupted with, “That’s a lot of information to put in a paper.” I continued on and discovered that the article was regarding an email that the Colonel’s son, Trevor, had sent to the paper. Trevor is 18 years old and in college. His dad is deployed and his mom and sister are at home. After hearing the announcement about the total troop draw down from Iraq he wrote the paper to set the record straight – that his dad would not be home until after the end of the year. The first half of the article went into a great deal of info (and is probably a slight OPSEC violation) but the second half was almost all direct quotes from Trevor.
In the end, we all share one overwhelming concern, whether or not our loved ones will return. We dread receiving the news that we will have to settle for that last hug we had, that last goodbye as tears streamed down our cheeks, or that last mental image of their face as we turned and walked away feeling abandoned. That’s one thing I’ve noticed recently; you never truly appreciate family as much as you should until you experience that emptiness that deployment brings.
There exists a feeling of absolute vulnerability that comes alive in those final days. Spouses may begin to worry about how their relationship will stand up to distance. Young sons and daughters, to young to understand the magnitude of such change, wonder where their mommy or daddy is going.
My appreciation continues to grow for the hundreds of thousands of soldiers who have so valiantly fought for our freedom, as well as the loyal families who have endured more than imaginable.
Unfortunately, some soldiers haven’t returned. While I’m horrified by thoughts that my dad will be one of those men, I know that regardless, my dad, like many other fathers have, is serving his country in the most courageous way possible. And that makes me proud.
My emotional nature is not a surprise to anyone who knows me well, but what got me most about this article was thinking about Trevor’s mom. I have five children. My youngest two hear me say, “Don’t whine – use your words”, no less than 45 times a day. My 10 year old constantly talks back, and my teenagers question everything I say. Oftentimes, I wonder if they really hear anything. Is my parenting even working? Are all of these rules having any affect?
Trevor’s email is proof that it does all work. Parenting is not for the faint of heart, but it will produce productive members of society. Trevor woke up one morning and had something to say. He said it without whining, without sassing, and without questioning. He said it very humbly and very respectfully. And he said it to the world. Congratulations, Mom and Dad. You have raised a man.