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Keeping Grace

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Very rarely do people give the right response when they find out my husband is deployed. And there are really only a handful of responses that I feel are appropriate – or really just one. Very rarely do I get it – and when I do I truly thank them for their words.

“Thank them for their service,” “I will be praying for their safety,” or quite simply a “Thank you” they want relayed. And when these kind, understanding people say these things you can see it in their eyes. Sometimes almost tear-filled because they understand that completely what our soldiers are knowingly sacrificing for them. It is rare, it is beautiful, it almost makes up for the far too common inappropriate ones.

“Oh, that’s terrible!” She sighed when she realized where the hand and foot print covered package was going. “That is just awful that he has to be there.” I knew it was coming and I gripped the counter slightly, mentally preparing myself for what was about to follow.

“Isn’t it just awful that they have to do something so pointless? It’s just stupid,” she continued placing the labels on the packages that had been put together and donated by a youth organization. They had come up with over 30 boxes packed to the max for C’s soldiers. So many we asked for addresses from others we knew were deployed. “And for WHAT?” she continued.

It didn’t phase her a bit. She didn’t seem to catch onto that fact that she just insulted me and my husband. “It is just insane that these men and women have to leave their families for nothing. He must hate it. It is so dumb.” She still continued with checking customs labels and re-taping. I was just glad she wasn’t really looking up.

 

I wanted to say something but I couldn’t. I DO believe that people’s opinions can be changed given accurate information but the effort to explain is time consuming and they have to want to hear it. They need to be open. This was not the time, this was not the place, this was not the person. The conversation moved on – eventually.

I try to be as graceful in this life as possible. And so many things in it are far from graceful. But to those who are not in it, to those who don’t understand, I try to keep grace. There is never a time when it is more of a challenge to do so.

So many people are incredibly misinformed, or aren’t informed at all, and simply decide that what our soldiers are doing is “pointless” and “dumb.” And people are entitled to their opinions but to express that to an Army wife, or heaven-forbid, a soldier befuddles me. Who does that and thinks its appropriate? TONS of people. They apologize for him having to do something so “terrible”. Well, I am sorry he is defending that person’s idiocy.

I fully understand that so many people just do not understand what they are doing there – because they aren’t in it – and that is the only thing that prevents me from saying everything I think of what they just said. But please understand this:

Many of these soldiers joined during wartime and those who joined before have reenlisted or re-signed since then. My husband joined three years before September 11th but has re-signed his contract twice since we invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. No one forced that upon him. Do not diminish the service of our military men and women by acting like this has been forced on them. They chose this, knowingly, understanding what they were about to face. They choose it everyday, as well as their families. No soldier joins, especially now, not understanding that there is a war going on. If they weren’t willing to fight – they wouldn’t volunteer to do so.

Do not forget September 11th. Our soldiers remember. Those who joined the day after remember. And don’t think for a moment that that doesn’t still matter. We have not had an attack on our soil since then. Thank a soldier for that. I miss my soldier every moment. My children miss their father. It breaks me every night when my son repeatedly presses the button in the teddy bear that holds my husband’s voice. But I do not resent him or this country for taking him from me. This is my reality. A reality I also chose when I chose him. I am proud of my soldier. I am proud of his sacrifice. I am proud of his choice. Do not apologize for our separation. This is our reality. I recognize it. I live it as greatly as I can. I will thrive in it despite the challenges it presents. 

There is good being done in those countries by our soldiers. Every job they provide to an Afghan civilian, gives one less penniless man for the Taliban to recruit. One less recruit to fly a plane into our buildings. One less tragedy that pauses our lives. There is so much more that our troops do than what people hear on the news or read in the paper. They are not just killing Taliban – there will always be more. They are weakening their hold on these poverty-stricken people. They are giving other options to survive in an area that has depended on these extremist to survive for decades and decades. They are giving options in a land that never provided another choice. Do not be misinformed as to their mission. There are many – they are all vital to our safety and our survival.

“And for what?” she had said. “What is the point?”

THAT is the point. For us to never feel what we felt on that day again. For us to never feel the absolute terror. For our children to survive. For our children to live in the country that we knew before September 11th.

This war will end. It will end when all that can be done, has been done. And if another comes – these men and women will stand up again ready to defend. Our freedom is never guaranteed. Our freedom is always at risk. Do not allow that promise of freedom to cloud your understanding of what it requires to sustain it.

My husband is a soldier. He does not demand your apology. He does not demand anything from you.

Do not look to me with sad eyes. Do not offer me words of regret. They are not welcome here.

Offer your gratitude. Offer your support. Offer your prayers. All of these will be taken. All of these will be appreciated. All of these will be relayed to the men and women who deserve them.

Please keep all other opinions to yourself – and if you can’t, pray that I can continue keeping grace.

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16 thoughts on “Keeping Grace”

  1. What an amazing article! You truly captured the essence of what being a military spouse is all about!!!!

  2. So so true! Thank you for posting this. Please thank your soldier for CHOOSING to fight for our freedom. And thank you for choosing ‘the life’. All military and their families are in our prayers always!

    1. Michelle, Thank you! I will pass it along! : ) The prayers are always appreciated – thank you for supporting our troops and their families!

  3. I get even worse responses when people find out my soldier is deployed to Africa. Like its even MORE pointless. It really hurts sometimes the comments I get. And forget about them asking how I’m doing. Once they hear its not Iraq or Afghanistan its like it doesn’t matter. Forget the fact that its a remote area with terrible communication home. It’s Africa so its no big deal. The work they are doing is just as important but unfortunately people don’t understand or even care to.

    1. People sometimes just don’t understand how much goes into the security of this country. It’s awful how much people do not realize. I am sure that is horribly frustrating. A friend posted on my blog something her father told her that has helped to calm my nerves when “uninformed” people (instead of using a much harsher term) say “uninformed” (again replacing a harsher word) things. He said: “The stability of one’s country can be judged by how much it’s citizens know about their military”. Take comfort in knowing that what your husband does is vital and that you are not alone in it. Some other spouse with her soldier deployed to a remote area people don’t think about is rolling her eyes at the same “uninformed” people! ; )

  4. AMEN! If we could only come up with a graceful response similar to your last paragraph to say to people when they give us those sad eyes or apologies and especially rants about the war. Thanks for posting! You put into words what SO MANY military wives think but don’t know how to vocalize it.

    1. I am not a woman graceful enough to say these things on the spot. I am only given enough grace to keep my mouth closed and write later. I guess if I don’t have ENOUGH grace at least I have some.

  5. This was so well written. I have been very fortunate and the majority of the responses I get when people find out my husband is deployed is that they thank him for his service and pray for him. That first week he left my bank teller told me that and I broke down crying right there. It was the kindest thing I possibly could have been told in that moment.

    1. Jane, I am so glad that you have had mostly GOOD experiences!! I know what you mean about the right responses bringing tears to your eyes. They do the same for me!

  6. As the daughter of a 35 year vet and the wife of a soldier who served for 7 years I thank your family for its service. My dad was in Vietnam and the reactions of the American citizens were awful. I remember protesters surrounding the fort we lived on. It was scary. We have made strides in our reactions to soldiers and their service but there is so much further for us to go. Again thank you and your family for their service and sacrifice for our freedom. Praying your soldier safely home.

  7. I understand and agree with you completely. Being raised by an Air Force officer we were told every one has the right to their own opinion and my father just like my husband who’s in the army will tell you they serve so people can have the freedom of speach but dont tell me what my husband does is for nothing or the sacrifice our family has made is in vain. A soldier does not fight for what’s in front of him but for what he left behind. My husband always says he would rather fight this war there than here in his own back yard. So yea say thank you and your family for our sacrifice but never make it sound like what we have endured been for nothing

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