A Young Mom Joins the Army

Recently, I’ve been thinking about the war in Iraq. Not because I have any particular strong feelings about it and perhaps that’s what bothers me the most. I watch people like Sally Fields take her 90 seconds of Emmy time and devote it to expressing her opinions on the subject and I watch mothers on TV ask us to support their sons and daughters. All the while I let it go by without any vocalized or written opinion on what’s right or wrong. I shouldn’t be surprised however. I’ve never been a real political type. After all as my husband the die-hard Republican likes to remind me, I voted for Ross Perot. In defense for that, I just want to say that I thought a little business sense might help our government. In retrospect, I might have been irrational. Somehow I remain indifferent to most political issues and if I like what a candidate stands for, they get my vote. I’m not sure how I remain so neutral. Particularly if you’ve ever met my best friend. She’s the most devote Democrat around. No matter the candidate, she like my husband is going to vote the party line. But back to the war in Iraq and why I’m writing about it.

Here I sit on yet another a plane. Row 18 A on a commuter between Cincinnati and Kansas City. Next to me in seat 18 B is a young army private. She can’t be older than 20 fast asleep slumped against the window. She looked exhausted when she got on the plane and barely could ask for a glass of water from the flight attendant. I have to admit that I’ve been staring at her while she sleeps. I can’t help it. I am truly amazed by the commitment she has apparently made to me and my family. The commitment to keep us safe and free. She’s only a child herself yet she’s protecting mine. How does a person so young make that commitment? Where does she draw her strength to leave her family and fight for strangers? I can’t help but wonder where she has been and where she will end up. Does her mother worry about her as I do every time my children go off to middle school? Certainly the risks she is taking far outnumber the dangers my children will encounter in the halls of their private Catholic school- or at least I hope so. How does a mother watch the recent HBO Special about the amputees of Iraq and not cry? A startling fact- the Iraq war has sent home more amputees than were created in the Civil War? And that’s with modern medicine. One could argue that in the Civil War a bomb victim just died instead of loosing their limb however there are hundreds of moms and would-be mothers coming home no longer with the ability to hug their children with both arms.

As the plane is landing, I still have not formed a strong enough opinion on whether we should be at war in Iraq but I have formed an opinion on the men, women and young adults who are serving us. They deserve our support in whatever fashion that takes on for each of us personally. It might be a simple prayer for some or a 3 minute public protest for others. But just as this young private has committed to support my family, I commit to support her and her mission.

I assure you that when she wakes up, she’ll be greeted with a smile and big Thank You from the mom in seat 18A.

PS- When she awoke I learned that she was a young mother of two children who was returning from boot camp. She was about to see her children for the first time in three months. When I asked her why she joined the army her answer was simple, “I joined the Army so that I could give my children the chance of a good life. It was the only way I could finish my education and provide them health care at the same time. ” Tears came to my eyes. I could only respond with “wow” to which she replied, ” It was a good decision however the hardest part is being away from children.”

Remember the words of this Private tonight when you lean over to kiss your own children tonight because she is laying in bed somewhere wishing she could hers.


4 Responses

  1. I agree that we should support the men and women who have made the =
    choice to be a part of our armed services. It is an enormous sacrifice. =
    Whether or not we agree with the choices of our government to send =
    these soldiers to war, they deserve whatever we can provide in moral and =
    tangible support.
    I’m glad you stopped to thank her and ask her about her life! =20

  2. <i>It was the only way I could finish my education and provide =
    them health care at the same time.</i>
    Wow. What does THAT say about our country? The only way she can get an =
    education and health care for her children is to join the military, be =
    separated from her children for months at a time and get sent off to =
    fight a war against a country that did nothing to us.
    That brings tears to my eyes too.

  3. Maria, thank you for that touching post. Both my boys served in the USAF =
    (as did their Mom many moons ago) and they need all our prayers, our =
    support and our encouragement. Many join, as this young troop did, to =
    build a better life for herself and her children. Many join because they =
    know the importance of protecting our freedoms and those of others =
    around the world.=20
    If your readers want to learn ways to support an American soldier and =
    families, please encourage them to contact their local base or post =
    Family Services Group (FSG). I have also posted tons of resources on my =
    website but don’t want to be self-promoting here. Let me know if you’d =
    like the link and I’ll send it to you.
    Happy Thanksgiving!
    Laura B. =20

  4. Maria,
    Her story is just one of so many that are heart-touching and =
    heart-breaking. I truly believe that of more people heard these stories =
    more people would support our troops and appreciate the sacrifices they =
    make on our behalf everyday. Thanks for blogging this.
    Supporting Our Military, One eMail at a Time @ eMail Our Military

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