Monday, November 10, 2008
I had really mixed feelings when I saw this piece on the news this morning. It is sad and touching and heartwarming and wonderful, all at the same time: two parents, a married couple serving in the Army, returned home after being off to war for the last thirteen months.
But it's also horrible and tragic. Why should both parents be on active duty at the same time? The story is a little short on details, like where the couple was serving, whether they were serving together, and if their simultaneous service was a choice that they made - or was it just the luck of the draw?
Kids need their parents. It's one thing when parents are too lazy or self-centered, too busy drinking or watching TV or hunting moose or racing snowmobiles across Alaska to actually provide any parental guidance to their children. But it's another thing entirely when they are off in service to their country. Then, as is usually the case, one parent is left at home to be both breadwinner and single parent, and the entire family waits and worries about the other parent off doing their sworn duty and putting their life on the line in the service of their country, and their spouse's and children's country, too.
But how much more stressful is it for those left behind when both parents are on active duty overseas? What special anxieties do children in that situation experience? What special problems do they have to deal with?
Are these parents back for good? I don't know. Again, the story is a little vague as to whether this is a two-week leave, a six-month rotation, or a permanent demobilization. Even if they are not going to be shipped back off to a war zone after a brief spell of R&R, how many other couples are in similar situations?
This Veterans' Day, remember all of those who are off keeping the promise that they made to their nation when they joined the armed forces. Remember all those who have come back and have a long road ahead. And remember those who came back only after their journeys had already ended.