May 26, 2004
Thomas Paine wrote in "The American Crisis" on December 23, 1776:
A noted one (Torey), who kept a tavern at Amboy was standing at his door, with as pretty a child in his hand, about eight or nine years old as most I ever saw, and after speaking his mind as freely as he thought was prudent, finished with his unfatherly expression, "Well! Give me peace in my day."
Not a man lives on the continent but fully believes that a separation must some time or another finally take place, and a generous parent should have said, "If there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have peace."
I was only in my early teens around the time the Vietnam War was winding down. And as a young teen, I didn't concern myself much about the politics of that war. But, I was wearing a silver ID bracelet bearing the name of a man that I didn't know, but who was missing in action. I never took that bracelet off. I did know that a man was at risk somewhere because he choose to represent our country in battle. I may not have understood that war, but an act of heroism I did understand.
When Desert Storm came blasting into my home, complete with vivid pictures of a war as it occurred. I paid attention with a curiosity and awareness that comes only when we are exposed to war in this new high-tech way. It was in my living room and could not be avoided. While my heart ached for those I could see putting their lives on the line, Desert Storm this war did not hit me as profoundly as our current war in Iraq.
This war in Iraq is occurring at a crucial time in my life. I am raising a young boy. I have a love for this child that is unequalled by any other relationship I've experienced -- past or present. I love him with a love that strangles overwhelms my heart. I've often told him that I would run into a burning building for him, or throw myself in front of a moving vehicle to protect him.
In fact, as extreme as this may sound to you, I once, several years ago, had a dream about him sticking his finger in an outlet (we were renovating our house at the time and no doubt that fear had crossed my mind during waking hours). In the dream he was being electrocuted and I reacted by running to him, throwing my arms around him and consequently experienced the electrocution along with him. That, is how much I love my child. Enough to die for him -- or with him.
Before I became a mother, I viewed acts of heroism with tremendous respect, but with an equaled part of curiosity. "Who are these men and women willing to sacrifice their lives for people they don't know?", I would often asked myself.
I want so much for my son to enjoy the kind of life I've enjoyed for over forty years. One that permitted me the freedom to plan for a future full of hope and endless possibilities. One without fear and restrictions. I want him to know the pleasure and excitement of visiting other lands.
Because I want these things for him more than anything else, I realize that I would gladly trade in my Prada's for combat boots, my sun visor for a helmet, and, my golf club for a gun. I would, without hesitation, if they would have me, fight for that continued freedom and hopeful future. Not just for my little guy, but for his friends as well.
I always wondered what drove men and women to leave behind all that they hold dear -- to risk never returning to it -- to ensure those blessed freedoms for people they've never met.
I think that many of them, at a much earlier age than I, recognized that without sacrifice, their personal sacrifice, future generations will never know what they know. What they really know, what they've always understood, is ours is a country, a way of life, that is worth dying for. Even for a future generation they may never know.
Historian Henry Brown said of the Revolutionary War:
"The blood that stained this ground, did not rush forth in the joyous frenzy of fight; it fell, drop by drop from the heart of a suffering people."
We've suffered great loss at the hands of our enemies -- then and now. For those who have perished in war -- and those who remain with the ever present threat of death -- thank you. Thank you for loving our country, our freedoms, and our children's future. Thank you for the blood that was spent on the preservation of those things we hold dear.