I was eight when my father left to go to the gulf war. We lived in Germany at the time and I remember vividly the day my father broke the news to my family. My young mind could not comprehend exactly where my father was going or what he was going to be doing. In my mind he was going away to one of his trainings but only in another country. That was normal and my daddy was going to be just fine. He was a big man who commanded a battalion, nothing was going to happen to him.
He wrote us letters about the desert, the people he was meeting and where they were positioned at the moment. Every letter ended with, “I love you so much and I’ll be home soon.” Weeks and months went by. Many soldiers from my dad’s battalion came home on big buses. My mom and I always went to greet them but my dad never came off the bus. I just wanted him to come home.
After seven long months he finally did. His division marched into the base looking like heroes in their desert camouflage uniforms and helmets. They were scruffy, thin and tired but I will never forget the relief and happiness on their faces. That night I snuggled up next to my dad, so glad that he was finally home from his “training.”
The terrorist attacks on Sept 11 not only shocked and saddened me but they made me realize what a hero my dad and others in the military really are. He is my hero. I have never been a big patriot nor have I given my father’s job much thought but after the incident I have a new- found appreciation for the military and anyone who decides to join.
Thankfully he will most likely not be sent to the Middle East, but many people that we know are training and are getting worried.
On Thursday, Sept. 27, I met John, a 22 year-old marine at a concert. He told me about how he his division is beginning serious training and that he will be shipped out in about two weeks. John seemed so sad and scared but still ready to do his job and fight for our country. He chose to join the military and I admire him for that. After speaking to him the tragedy really hit home to me.
I’m not becoming a big military advocate and I’m not expecting anyone else to be either. For me this tragedy has brought a new appreciation for my dad, the one person who I probably take for granted much too often but has done so much good. I only ask that we all keep the young men and women in our minds while they are away from friends and families defending our country