And Again With the Soap Box
by Kerry Blair
I know, I know. It's July 2nd and those of you who know me are either cringing in expectation or avoiding the Frog Blog entirely. For what it's worth, I'm well aware that I've climbed up on this red-white-and-blue soap box often enough to wear all the paint off the top and even crack a wooden slat or two. With both my boys stateside now, I'm trying to dial it down, I really am. I told my husband that I was not going to hang a mile of bunting and string patriotic lights this year. (I haven't. Yet. But I have dug the 4th of July box out of the garage and moved it to the front porch.) I told my son that I would not blog today about patriotism . . . or America . . . or (especially!) the men in my family who have been dedicating years of their young lives for freedom ever since some guys got together in Philadelphia and murmured, "Hey, how about that 'independence/democracy' thing?"
True, my sons have completed their military service (I hope) and returned home safe and sound.
America has 507,158 people serving in the Army; 357,693 in the Air Force; 179,762 Marines; 41,002 Coast Guard--and almost a million reserves, active and prepared to be called up. (This according to a DOD website.) Almost a quarter of a million people seems like a huge number--until you count the rest of us. So few do so much that goes largely unrecognized and unappreciated by so many. I just cannot let pass even this small chance to publicly express my admiration and gratitude to them and theirs. I don't do that often enough. (Pretty much only Julie does.)
I suspect that very, very few of us have any real idea what today's soldiers, guards, airmen, and Marines do (and have done) in our behalf. We don't know what they have faced, what they have sacrificed, what they have endured--and what they will never be able to put behind them. Not unlike other battles, even in Book of Mormon times, it is largely kids who are on the front lines of our war with terror. (And if you think the threats have lessened at home or abroad, well . . . let's talk privately sometime.)
My youngest son "celebrated" his 21st birthday in Iraq. Now 25, he is a sophomore at ASU, taking four classes over the two-month summer sessions to get a head start on an even fuller load come fall. For him, an average day begins at 5 AM when he leaves his apartment to work security in a government-contracts division of Boeing. It ends when the last math equation is completed and/or the research paper submitted electronically, almost never before midnight. He keeps up this insane schedule because, he says, "he needs to make up for lost time." Five years "lost" in defense of his country.
Someday I hope to convince Matt that those years were not lost. They were nobly sacrificed for great good in a time of great evil. As much as we might wish to send somebody else's family to the worst of places in the worst of times, our very lives depend upon us not leaving our nation's defense only to those with few other options. Young men and women of intelligence, courage, and integrity must continue to step forward in this and every generation. Admittedly, I wouldn't have chosen military service for either of my sons. Admittedly, I would take it all away even now if I could: the memories of fear and horror; the ongoing, endless internal debate suffered by even Moroni. My heart aches every day with the knowledge of burdens my sons must carry forever as a result of their service.
And they are two of almost 250,000,000.
With that in mind, please forgive me for yet another sermon to the choir. I will be forever grateful to those who have, do, and will serve our country. But this blog is more self-serving than that. I deeply feel the need to say publicly once again to each of my sons that even if nobody else in this world or the next takes note of those long, difficult, dedicated "lost years," they have made their mother so very proud.
Note: I had planned to run a really terrific guest blog today instead of running off at the mouth. (Fingers?) Please take in the all-around-amazing Jennie Hansen's blog on Patriotic Literature right HERE.