I've always supported the troops and every single man and woman who put their lives on the line to protect the freedoms we hold dear and near to our hearts and serve our country.
The military has always been a part of my family and my life in one way or another, with only a few short years when I did not know someone serving. My father was in the army during the Korean War (way before my time). My husband was an enlisted Marine during Vietnam. He spent his time in Japan and for that I am grateful. His two best friends, the men who stood up at our wedding, both served in Vietnam. My husband is older than I am and while he was wondering if he would receive orders into the war zone, I was playing with dolls. At the same time, I had a cousin serving as a Marine in Vietnam. Sadly, he was killed in action before I was old enough to really get to know him.
I have a nephew who joined the Marines and another who is in the Air Force and is currently in Afghanistan. I try not to think about the danger he is in and keep him in my prayers daily. There have also been friends who joined after high school and served during my adulthood. I simply try not to think about the danger, something that has become second nature to me (or so I thought).
I learned to file the danger away after marrying a cop because it was necessary. The first years of our marriage we lived in one of the top ten cities for crimes against individuals. During the second year of our marriage, we experienced what was referred to as "Black August" when 8 officers were killed in the line of duty in one month in the state. I would tell my husband each day that I didn't care if it was 115 degrees out, he was wearing his vest. Of course, he would have worn it anyway, I just felt the need to remind him there were no options as far as I was concerned.
Later we moved to a calmer community, but that didn't mean he was any safer. The wrong car stop or a volatile family fight and things could go very bad for any officer responding. A case in point, he was off work 8 months for injuries after responding to a family fight and wrestling with a man who was on some serious drugs. So, quiet community does not equal a safe job for a cop. But, I learned not to really think about what he was doing or what could happen. If I did, I would go crazy with worry. I am sure there are many things he didn't tell me, or he told me much later.
As a wife and aunt, I can accept the danger and put it from my mind. But, can I do that as a mother?
My son met with a recruiter while I was at RT. He and my husband sat down and discussed the pros and cons with this young woman without a word to me. I know why they did it. They knew I would freak. My son has always been interested in the military. He joined ROTC his freshman year of school and often talked of joining the Marines when he graduated. I bit my tongue because he has to decide his own path but I wanted him to do something safe. You know, like origami. Then, over the past year he was thinking about going to school in Colorado. He wanted to study bicycle engineering. This was a career path I was 100% behind. He would still mention the armed forces. but I would remind him that people need good bicycles.
After I got back from RT, we sat down and discussed what my son wanted to do. Instead of the Marines. he has decided to join the Air National Guard. I met with the same recruiter Monday evening so my questions could be answered. While I am not thrilled that my son wants to enlist, I know he needs to follow his own path. Thankfully, he still has a year of high school, which means I have a year to get used to my baby going off to boot camp and come to terms with the possibility that he may one day be deployed.
Have you ever had, or do you have, a loved one serving our country? How do you deal with the worry of the danger?