Saturday, September 13, 2008

This is less disjointed than it will first appear.

Claire (all of a whoppin' age 5 at the time) told her mommy a couple of months ago that, one day, she just pretended she was outgoing instead of shy, and then she was able to talk to some people she didn't know very well and be nicely friendly.

Due to some pain, I have barely jogged at all in the last 5-6 weeks. One morning I just had to get out and get some exercise and be forced into some really deep breathing. About a half-mile around the corner was a big tent in a neighbor's yard, and lots of flags, and decorated tables, and porta-potties, and a cool blow-up Moonwalk toy. The sign said, "Welcome Home, Sean!" It was obviously for a soldier returned home, and the celebration would be commencing later in the day.

In looking for employment, frequently my son and son-in-law have not made it to the top of the list. Veterans and minorities take priority over guys like my fellas. Sometimes that bothered me.

But that day, as I jogged beyond Sean's home, I thought about what he'd done. (Just to be clear, I don't know him. I don't know his parents. I don't know where he fought. But he was a soldier.) I thought about Rueben over there too, almost ready to come home after his long stint of duty, and then recalled yet again. I thought about Melody's sons. And there's Alex and Lynn and JJ's brother and so many others.

Our country was attacked on our own soil seven years ago. It hasn't happened since. We don't live in a war zone. That lovely Saturday I was out jogging in shorts. I wasn't wearing a burkha. I wasn't being shot at. I wasn't even passing by armed soldiers who kept the enemy at bay. I knew there would be food for lunch; enemy soldiers weren't raiding my pantry and my garden. I knew my church building was still standing, whole and undefiled, with the pastor free to preach the next day.

Soldiers give us that freedom.

They sacrifice their comfortable bedrooms, their time with family, their good home-cooked meals, the joys of their local communities. They sacrifice those things to give us the freedom to go to a movie, or hold down a job, or teach our children the catechism, or go jogging on a pretty Saturday morning.

If it weren't for the soldiers who protect us, it's very likely that many of our jobs would become non-existent. Maybe it's not so bad after all to allow that the ones who protected our homes and our jobs and our farms and our businesses --and our lives-- be the ones who are first-hired at those farms and businesses.

For those of you with kids, remember how great it was/is when a stranger came up to you in a restaurant and complimented you on your children's behavior? That message sticks with you for a long time. Even decades. That compliment is a quiet little voice in the back of your mind, encouraging you to go on and continue doing the right thing, disciplining those children, when you'd rather be lazy. And it reminds you how wonderfully the rest of the world sees this child of yours whom you know to be not quiiiite perfect.

I figured Sean or his parents should hear the "thank you" to him that was rattling around in my mind.

I remembered Claire's wise discovery. Just pretend you're not shy. So I stopped and spoke briefly with the family while they were prepping for all the company that would descend upon them later to celebrate Sean's homecoming.

When they're surrounded by the media telling them their son's sacrifice was worthless, I hope they remember my "thank you" just like Gary and I remember the stranger at the truck stop who purchased stuff animals for our wee kids and who thanked us for the job we were doing raising this brood. I hope there were lots of other people who have said thank-you to Sean and his family.

And thank you to Rueben and Annetta and Ralph.
And thank you to Matthew and Ethan and Jay and Melody and John.
And thank you to Liesl for giving up Lynn for those months.
And thank you the Hammonds.
And thank you to all those others, too many to list.

This You-Tube video has been flying all over the blogosphere. You've probably seen it. But if not, check out this soldier's message.
And why is it that Lee Greenwood always makes me cry?...


  1. Susan, You and I seem to be having the very same thoughts this I posted these very things on my blog as well!

  2. I wanted to write this post on Labor Day, and it took me this long to get around to it. It was cool to see your posts about similar thoughts throughout the end of the week.

  3. Beautifully said, Susan.

    ...and I've used Claire's trick on more than one occasion myself, except that I just pretend I'm my mother, who has never met a stranger. :)

  4. Glad that Claire could inspire such a wonderful act of kindness. It is something we all should do. Thanks!