September 17, 2007

Threads Of The Flag

Today, on the local news, I watched a young wife, with her children, and her mother-in-law, sitting on the front pew of their church, as their husband, father, and son, lay in the flag-draped coffin before them. Another brave warrior, so young, whose life is no more. A life given in service to his country. Another installment for the price of freedom--because you see, freedom really isn't free. No matter how you may feel about current events, whether we should have, or shouldn't have gone to war, we must give the honor which is due, not only to our troops, but to their families, who pay a price, too. Like it or not, we are all in this together.

The following was sent to me some time ago, and I thought that this would be the most appropriate time to share it.


You probably didn't realize who was sitting next to you. You rattled on about how silly this anti-terrorist war is, and that it's just a political ploy. You complained about America being the world's police. You said you'd never let your son run off to fight, and you'd throw a fit if they just sent your husband off. At this point, I almost turned around and told you who I am.

I am a military spouse.

Life in the military has never been easy. It means low pay with no overtime, watching your husband go to work with a fever because the doctor didn't deem him sick enough for the day off. It means years of protocol that wear on you like a dripping faucet late at night.

We live with terms like, "Exercise," which means 12-18 hour shifts. And TDY, which means your spouse is gone for up to 180 days. And "Remotes," which means your spouse is gone for longer than 180 days. And finally, "PCS," which means your whole family is going on this ride. Don't get me wrong, whining is not my intent here.

While the road we've been down in the military has not been paved, it's been a good life. My kids know you don't want to make friends, because you never know how long they'll be here. We know how precious good friends are, even when the miles separate us. We go to live in other countries where the locals despise us. It wasn't always in Vogue to be patriotic. Sept.11 helped turn that tide, but flags are fading around here, again.

My husband is TDY right now. I'm not allowed to tell you where. I'm 26 days into a 109-day TDY. There have been too many times I've needed him here. Forget the running of the home fort--there are kisses and hugs that should be taking place.
I lie in bed, and try to recall how his breathing sounds, next to me--or I hear the door open, and try to envision him walking in from work. What I would give to hear his clear voice without the static, and wondering how much the phone call will cost us. Then the deep fear--what if this separation becomes permanent? Distance is a horrible thief of what is precious, because it only reminds us of how precious it is.

You kept talking for awhile. Then I realized I was picking up your tab. You could sit there freely, and give your opinion because of the military families like ours. We are paying the price for your freedom. I've heard it said that soldiers past, present, and future pay for the flag. Nah, we're the threads it's woven with.


GUYK said...

Thanks Jan. Often times is is harder on the families left behind than it is on the ones deployed. Days and days without mail and not knowing whether a loved one is dead or alive
is hard to take. At least those deployed know that their loved ones at home have the security net of the vast military family.

Military spouses..I used to say wives but now there are many husbands with wives in the military..have to be a tough breed. They have my utmost respect..I have been married to one who is the epitome of that toughness..going on 44 years.

DNR said...


Thanks so much for sharing.

Vin De Vine said...

I remember my own mothers relief and ire when I came back from a two year stint overseas. There were no satellite phones, no internet links for contact back then. All my letters addressed to the folks arrived in a bundle three months after I returned. All the time I was gone my parents did not hear a single word from or about me.

sue said...

Thank you for this post, Jan. I am married to a military man, but I didn't meet him until after he was no longer in the service. I can't imagine what these people must go through.

Anonymous said...

Deployments are hard enough on families without involuntary extensions and having to watch mealy mouthed swine like Harry Reed talking about it all being for nothing.

Jan said...

guyk..thank you, and all the others who gave up years of their lives for all of us.

You're right about military spouses having to be a tough breed.

My husband did two tours in Viet Nam, and retired after twenty years. I just got in on the tail-end of his military career, but I know that you have to be tough to hang in there with them.

You and sweetthing are blessed.

Jan said...

dnr..thank you for all that you do for those families.

You've touched a lot of hearts.

Jan said...

vin...I don't think anyone realizes the anxiety that a family goes through in those situations.

It must have been awful for you, too, because you had no way of knowing what was going on with your family, either, right?

I'm glad that communication, at least, has improved for everyone since those days.

Jan said...

Sue...I know.

You and I are a couple of the lucky ones.

Jan said...

hermit.. I can only imagine how the families of our military men and women feel when they hear it, too.