"life lessons", Afghanistan, America, character training, Ft Jackson SC, Ft Stewart GA, grateful nation, Iraq, Kuwait, Military appreciation, sacrifice, service, spiritual, unemployment, US Air Force, US Army, US Coast Guards, US Marines, US Navy, Warriors Walk
On September 12, 2007, my youngest daughter enlisted in the U.S. Army. I allowed her to quit an unsuccessful high school career, obtain her GED, and ship out to her destiny at age 17.
She left the house amidst extreme emotion, but I knew I had to let her go and she knew she was ‘called.’ Staying would have killed her spirit. She completed her basic training at Ft Jackson, SC – same place I did mine in 1976! Ft Stewart became her home for 9 months. Her orders changed frequently, but she eventually deployed to Kuwait in March of ’08. Many of her friends went on to Iraq or Afghanistan, but she was assigned to the base camp in Kuwait. She was gone for a year. I heard from her about once a week, either by email or occasionally by phone. It was a VERY long year for all of us!
She returned after a year in the desert, and her brother and I went down to welcome her HOME, to the USA. The two of us, along with a good friend, drove from Charleston, SC to Ft Stewart, GA and awaited the bus returning from the Atlanta airport. It took an eternity, but finally the warriors rolled down the main street in the bus, to a cheering, yelling, crying crowd of family and friends. It was a wonderful day for our family.
The following day, we visited the Warriors’ Walk, a memorial garden for those who paid the highest price in Iraq or Afghanistan – the latest conflicts. As I started out, I decided to read aloud each and every remembrance plaque which contained the soldier’s name, rank, hometown, unit and theater in which they served. On most of these memorials, however, there were also handwritten notes from friends or family, mementos that held some special meaning, a flag, a snapshot, a can of beer, or a helmet. It didn’t take long before my heart was broken for the families and friends of these brave heroes. I was so deeply grateful that my daughter was not among them, yet I grieved for their loss, for the nation’s loss.
VISIT the WARRIORS WALK, FT STEWART, GA
A stranger to each of these honored lost soldiers, my daughter and I expressed our profound gratitude in silent tears. A stranger’s “Thank You” in behalf of … a grateful nation? … In behalf of my family.