A few months ago, I shared with you the difficulty I was having thinking of something appropriate to say to a woman whose son was in Iraq and just had his tour of duty extended. I never did find the right words. Thankfully, her son is home and doing well.
Today I am struggling to find the right words again, this time for those in our community who are just now sending the loved ones off to duty that very likely will put them in Iraq.
I guess what is weighing most heavy on my heart is that we truly are sending a little slice of the American pie off to war. The individuals within Charlie Company define what it is to be American. The soldiers range in age from those just starting out their adult lives to those about to have their only daughter graduate from high school. They are Democrats and Republicans, perhaps one or two Green party members, catholics and lutherans, married and single, brown-eyed and blue-eyed. They are softball coaches, musicians, blood donors, sportsmen and friends. They are proud and they are capable. If that doesn't sum up the essence of America, what does?
During the community send-off ceremony for the Guard unit last month, a little girl was escorted out of the building by her mother. Being a mom, I concluded that the little one was having trouble keeping quiet, and she and her mother were going to have a discussion about this away from the crowd. As they were walking behind me, I heard the girl emphatically cry, "But I don't wanna go!!
I am remembering this small incident and wondering how many of our soldiers are thinking the very same thing. And I'm sure each and every family that has a soldier now on their way to Fort Dix is thinking, "And I don't want you to go." Yet, we lined our streets and waved our flags and sent them off to duty. I know that our soldiers will serve their country with honor, valor and dignity. That's the kind of people they are. Finally, since I cannot find my own words, I offer these by William Jennings Bryant: "Great has been the Greek, the Latin, the Slav, the Celt, the Teuton, and the Anglo-Saxon, but greater than any of these is the American, in which are blended the virtues of them all."