It is amazing for me to be able to write something that I am so passionate about. I get to translate the raw emotion that I feel into words and hope to bring a better understanding to some of the challenges they face.
Without reading or watching true stories of our military, the deaths and troubles fade into the background. Until you can relate and see first hand the heart ache and emotional roller coaster the soldier, spouse, mother, father, child, grandparent, or loved one goes through, you can't understand the true meaning of freedom. It doesn't come free. Many couldn't give or do what it takes.
I have shared pieces of some of our personal experiences, and sampled some that others have seen and done, but want to tell another story today.
My husband was stationed at Ft. Drum, Ny for his first duty station and had deployed on his first tour to Afghanistan. We were living in base housing at the time. My oldest son was about six, and my daughter less than a year old. It was at the beginning of the war on terrorism right after 9-11. Nearly the whole base (which was huge) had deployed, so everyone was pretty much in the same boat. I got to know my neighbors pretty well, and joined forces to help through those months without a phone call or news reports that came on television of fallen soldiers while we waited for word. We would cry together, worry together, and celebrate together when a soldier would get a call home to say it wasn't him or the unit that had encountered attack. (or her.. we were mostly wives.) We held our breath when word came through the phone tree that there was an incident with the unit, and mourned as if it were our own we'd lost.
One brisk spring evening, the black SUV came cruising down our street, driving so slow it was if time were standing still. We all knew who it was and what it was about, and all stood in our yards with the kids playing underfoot watching and waiting, praying it wouldn't stop. With each apartment building it passed, you could see the petrified wife holding her kids tight (who didn't understand) and dropping to their knees in tears and prayers. It was a double sided blade to us all... because where it wasn't our soldier they were coming to report, it was someone's. Someone's daddy, husband/wife... someone's heart and soul and life. We watched as the three soldiers in class A's stepped out and went to knock on a door a block down, and the woman hit the ground in devastation. A few of us went and gathered up the woman's kids and took them to give her time while they delivered the news. We didn't know her, and yet were more connected than if we were blood related. There was nothing we could say to help, or to ease her sorrow. That was the worst feeling ever... being helpless but wanting to help so bad. We all cried for her and the loss of one of 'ours'.
From seeing the spouses and children stand at the gate, waving what might be their last good bye, to watching the tears of joy as a unit returned home, I will never forget what it's like. I cry even now seeing it on television, or in the media... whether good or bad news.
Back to my point... while beginning my release day plans of giving prizes away and promoting my book, I read a post by a fellow author. Her husband is military and left this morning early. I'm not sure where, but it didn't matter. My heart broke for her, and my stomach got sick. I thought about what I could do for her to show her some love, but didn't want it to come off as a sick way of self promotion or invading her privacy. So, I am asking that everyone share a general 'Support our troops and their families' photo today. Make someone's day brighter by a simple, quick share. You don't have to agree with politics, religion, or what the government has ordered them to do... just support their dedication, sacrifice, and selflessness as they do for us!