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  • Last modified 258 days ago (Feb. 28, 2018)

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Commentary

‘Thank you for your service’

Staff writer

The 60-something man in the grocery store checked out, picked up his bags, turned toward the entrance, and saw my fatigues-clad son walk inside.

He promptly moved a bag from his right hand to his left, reached to shake my son’s hand and humbly said, “Thank you for your service.”

My son shook the man’s hand and answered, “You’re welcome.”

What the man didn’t see is that behind my son, my eyes filled with tears. What he could not have known is, that day was the last day I expect to see my son at leisure before his departure ceremony a few weeks from now.

He’s headed somewhere in the Middle East. Where, exactly, has not been said. First stop Kuwait.

As every mom can say, I didn’t raise and nurture my son to be put in danger on a battlefield. Entering the military was, of course, his own decision.

While the job my son was trained for gave him an inside track into a needed profession in civilian life, it puts him at particular risk in a battle. He is a combat medic.

I’m told that in wars past, enemy soldiers respected the work of medics and didn’t deliberately shoot at them, but I’m told they are special targets today. That adds to the uneasiness I already feel.

The face of the man in the grocery store looked familiar, but in this small town, many faces are familiar to me. I could not, especially in that emotional state, pull up his name. I also had to look away before he saw my teary eyes. I’m sure I would have burst into tears if he said anything directly to me.

I’d like to tell him thanks for being appreciative and for saying that he is. I remember how soldiers were treated in the days the war in Vietnam raged on.

Our soldiers don’t launch wars. Those decisions are made by old men, not the young who are put in harm’s way.

They miss their children’s birthdays, holidays with their families, and significant milestones while they are gone. The families, in turn, miss having them there for those important life moments. My son has two young children.

People who know my son is leaving tell me to remind myself every day he’ll come home fine. Easy to say. Not so easy to do.

Last modified Feb. 28, 2018

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