On Friday I had one of the most painful experiences one could ever have. My pain paled in comparison to some of those around me in my life. There is a mother, sister, brother and an uncle a grandfather and a grandmother and a wife who said goodbye to their American Hero. Many tears were shed, hearts were heavy with the realization that for the next year and a half that young man would leave the protection of a family that loved him, cherished him. They had to release him into the cold hands of an awesome military machine to help bring freedom to a people who don’t have it and defend the freedom of a people who have become indolent to what being free really means.
Friday I comforted a young wife who has been married for only a sliver of time but whose emotions and love span the eternities. She kept saying that there just wasn’t enough time. My advice seemed hollow, what is a dad supposed to say to his baby girl? What comfort can a father really give to a daughter whose world has been turned upside down, twisted and then tossed around? The best thing that any of us can do is to listen, to be compassionate, to be 100% supportive not only of those fine young men and women that we send off to defend this great nation but to those who are left behind to privately mourn time lost and an insecurity of what the future will bring them. No matter what you think of this war or any war for that matter, the one thing that is universal is that someone has to be “That Guy,” the guy who straps on 80 pounds of gear and leaves everything behind to defend everything you have. He is the guy who sacrifices everything in his life so that you can enjoy everything in your life. The guy who will get paid squat to put himself in the middle of some of the most horrible places on earth so that you can live in the comfort of some of the nicest places on earth. He is the guy who leaves a father and mother, brothers and sisters, grandparents, children and a wife behind while you spend time with yours. The guy who will sleep wherever he can find a spot to lay down in, eat whatever he has to survive, shower only when and if he finds a place to, watch the sunrise and the sunset through the fog of war while you hit the snooze button on your alarm clock.
The other side of this coin is those left behind. They struggle to make their way through the life they had, they wonder how they will survive without someone who meant the world to them, they worry about where their brave soldier is sleeping, what they are eating, if they are safe and ultimately they worry every single second of every single day if they will ever see their loved one again. That is a heavy burden and a burden that we should all share whenever we can. So while we are all going on with our banal platitudes about supporting the troops, about how grateful we all are of the sacrifice that they are making, please let us not forget about those left behind who ache every single moment for those we so vociferously claim to support. The reason that I am so cynical here is that supporting the troops has become more of a bumper sticker slogan to most that an actual reality. We see it, hear it and mimic it but I am not sure that we fully comprehend or understand how to put it in actions rather than just words. When we get to the point where we pay the proper respect to our troops through supporting not only them but their mission and their families then we can begin to understand the immense burden that both carry on a day to day basis. Their burden is one that I am only now coming to fully realize while at the same time recognizing that I can’t know what it truly means or how it really feels. God bless the brave men and women of our armed services and God bless the families of these fine souls for lending them to us so that we may see in living color what true sacrifice is and what true love of country means. Of course that is just my take.