My husband and I were able to go away over Memorial Day Weekend (for the first time in almost 4 years - more about that later) so I did not have access to my laptop. Yesterday I was back at work - too busy to think! But this morning, driving in, I realized that I wanted to pay tribute to the men and women of the military who paid the highest price possible so that my husband and I could go away.
I am truly, truly blessed. My family and I watched as my son, Sgt. Anthony Kyle Bond, USMC, left not once, but twice for a tour of duty in Iraq. And we watched and cheered as the plane landed, bringing him home from both tours, safe and physically unharmed. So I know what it is like for a mother to watch her son or daughter get on a plane heading for Iraq or Afghanistan. I have experienced knowing that my son was in Iraq - but never knowing where in that country he was based. I understand what it's like to trust your child's safety to the Lord, and yet, walk around for six, nine or maybe even twelve months with a knot in your stomach and the thought in the back of your mind, "What if...?"
I am eternally grateful my son came back safely. But I also realize that there are thousands of mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, who experienced seeing an official military car drive up to their home. They have answered the door to find two military personnel standing there, somber faced, and before either of these two people can even state their reason for being at this particular home, the parents know. Their son, their daughter will be coming home before the rest of their unit. Not on a plane full of relaxed and relieved military personnel, but on a solo flight, in a box. And the family's nightmare began at that moment.
I cannot begin to imagine what horrendous grief these families go through. I've studied the cycles of grief and I know, intellectually, what these families have experienced. But I have not walked in their shoes. However, if I could meet each family, here is what I would say and do:
First, I would hug the mother and share in her tears, and the tears of other family members.
Then I would tell them: "Your son or your daughter did not die in vain. They died for the greatest purpose possible - the freedom of this country. Don't let anyone tell you that their death was in vain or was a waste - it was not. Hold your head up and be proud. Your child died a hero! From the bottom of my heart, my family and I thank you for your sacrifice and the sacrifice paid by your child. May God richly bless you and your family."
This is my prayer - that God will richly bless those who have lost a loved one during any war in which America has fought. And that every single person will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that their loved one did not die in vain.