My Impressions From a Farewell Ceremony at the Joint Reserve Base…

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Yesterday I attended a farewell ceremony at the Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth, Texas, for a Texas National Guard unit that was to be deployed to Iraq around Christmastime, via two and a half months of training at Fort Bliss in El Paso. 

(My son-in-law is one of the soldiers)

These were my impressions: 

  • I saw very young men with very young wives, and many small children and infants. Families just starting out, probably inexperienced in sorrow and very much hoping to stay that way
  • I imagined that most of these young men had probably joined the reserves for the security and benefits and paycheck, without truly thinking of the risk they were taking
  • I listened to a young girlfriend who was putting on make-up in the bathroom, but asking herself why she was going to the trouble. She expected to cry most of it off before she left the base that day
  • I saw young mothers with many small children in tow who would have to raise their kids by themselves for a year while their husbands went off to war
  • I wondered how many of these young mothers might go crazy while their husbands were gone
  • I heard the background drone of military speeches which could never be sufficient for the struggles and danger that were to come
  • I wondered how many of the young men standing in formation, ready to fight for their country, would become one of the statistics I hear on the radio while driving to work; one of the ones who wouldn’t be coming home in a year
  • I wondered if this might be the last time these families were together in happiness, trying not to think about the fact that their lives could be brutally changed in an instant
  • Although giving this gathering a farewell lunch was a wonderful gesture from their commanders, I couldn’t help but feel that we were sending them off with only a free bowl of soup to make up for the sacrifice that was to be given during the coming year, and possibly for a lifetime
  • I wondered how many of these young children might never get to know their fathers

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Godspeed to these young soldiers, and many prayers and blessings for the young families they leave behind.

 

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