Our son is no longer on active duty, but while he was we realized that the entire family is a part of the decision to enlist and serve. We had the talk about what would happen if something ever happened to him and we went a year and a half without seeing him while he served in the Pacific. We worried when he received anthrax vaccines, struggled through the rigors of boot camp and deployed to South Korea.
I had intended to write about the impact on the families of those who have given their lives for our country as we honor our veterans on Memorial Day, but Kay Brooks said it so much better than I could have:
When my daughter visited the Vietnam War Memorial what struck this young woman most strongly was the number of names with 'Jr' and 'III' behind them. She took dozens of photos of those. This is a snip from just one. Those designations made it absolutely clear that these men had left families behind when they got their orders. That those families were anxious and praying for their safety while they were gone. Those families' worst fears were realized when the military representative rang that bell or that telegram was delivered. There would be no joyous welcome home and relief and reentry into normal life. Life for those families was forever changed. Freedom certainly isn't free. There is no way to adequately thank these families for their sacrifice except to ensure that they know we remember and appreciate the tremendous loss they incurred and we appreciate the freedom we still have.