Dear President-Elect Trump,
On Friday, with the world watching, you will raise your right hand and take the oath of office – the oath of the highest office held in our nation.
I will be watching. My children will be watching. People who supported you and people who didn’t will stand in silence and watch as the transition of power takes place.
I, personally, know I will feel myself holding my breath – as I do too much, too often, in the life I have chosen to live.
You will be inheriting the longest war in our nation’s history. You will be inheriting the war that I have grown up in. And when I say “grown up in”, I mean the war that taught me how strong a person can be when their world crumbles before them. The war that taught me what it is to love so far outside of yourself that you know what it is to be broken but to still stand firm. The war that turned my hair gray long before it was my time, that pushed me to the point of complete physical, mental, emotional exhaustion, the war that aged me long before my peers that have lived on the other side of it.
You will be the third President to hold my husband’s life in your hands.
The third president to command the father of my children, the rock of my home, my partner in all things.
You will be the third president who determines what dangers await him, what terror must be tempered, what enemy must not be ignored.
You will be the third man who decides if he misses Christmases, and birthdays, and graduations, and diagnoses, and heartbreaks, and triumphs.
You will be the third man – who, like every other, is simply a man.
Simply a man but a man tasked with directing the lives of thousands upon thousands.
Thousands and thousands of lives that have been asked to defy what it is to be human. To resist sleep for days on end, to live in conditions far less than most in our nation could understand, to take life, to defend innocent, to watch comrades die beside them, on top of them, face to face with them. Lives who have been asked again and again and again and again to face things our countrymen – that I – can never understand, cannot begin to imagine.
My husband has been in this military since before we were a military at war. He’s been a joe, a sarge, a sir. He’s walked the streets of Baghdad and Kandahar as an infantrymen. He’s worked with allies on foreign soil as the bits of salt and pepper crept into his hair. This war has demanded him to be a different kind of man, a stronger kind of man, a knowing kind of man – this war that has taken up half of my life.
I’ve watched him kneel and present a flag. I’ve stood behind as he escorted his friend’s mother and father to their son’s memorial. I’ve said, “Come back to me,” again and again and again.
He has always come back.
I’ve watched him sit and simply take a moment before unlacing his boots and taking the biggest, flying-leap hugs from our children. I’ve watched the lines in his face deepen and his role in the fight change. I’ve watched as he reads and reads and reads and plans and works and does everything asked of him and more.
There are thousands like him. Thousands dedicated, experienced, ready, tired but willing.
Mr. President-Elect, I beg you to know them. I beg you to see them as more than pawns in political debate, more than pieces of a budget. I beg you to see them. I ask you to listen. To hear the voices of the men and women of the war that half of our nation doesn’t even know we are fighting.
I beg you to remember them. To speak of them. I beg you that if you are to be our third president for this war that you acknowledge that there is a war. That you acknowledge that there are current, ongoing sacrifices being made by our troops, by their families, by these children.
Don’t misunderstand me. Our troops are willing to go where needed, to do what is necessary for our nation, and they do so asking little –if anything – from us. I ask that if you send them, if you utilize the force they are, do so demanding full support. Do so fully planning for what comes next. Do so entirely ready to take care of them when they come back. Do so seeing them as people, as our greatest servants.
Don’t demand more of them while giving them less. Don’t set a higher bar while taking away the resources necessary to attain it.
Know your troops, Mr. President-Elect. Know your troops. Know the sacrifice. Know the service. Know the families.
– A Military Spouse