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What did you do to celebrate July Fourth?
Have a cookout with the family? Spend the day at the lake with friends? Lay in the air conditioning and watch TV, then go watch fireworks at the park?
I learned Thursday evening that I have one friend who purposely chose to work that day. She spent the morning crying, and pulled herself together to work in the afternoon.
Why, you ask?
Because she is the mom of a young man serving our country in a foreign land. He endures heat of 120 degrees, may spend seven days straight in a foxhole, deals with sand in everything, peeling, blistered feet, days without a shower, and constant danger — all so we have the freedom to spend America’s birthday doing the things I mention above.
Thursday evening I had the honor of sitting in on a very special gathering. Three of my very dear, precious long-time friends got together and started a support group for mothers of children serving in the military. Each has a son who has served, or is currently serving. Moms Of Military meets each Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at 512-A N. Main.
Due to confidentiality in the group, I’ll not share things from the meeting.
But I will say I learned a lot that evening.
And as I heard each mom by turn relate their own personal story of their son, it began to dawn on me that, even though I am capable of compassion and empathy, I had not really had a clue of what my friends have been going through with their sons serving overseas.
These moms nursed, bathed and wiped the noses of these little boys. Kissed their boo-boos, bandaged their cuts, hugged them when they cried, and sent them off to their first day of kindergarten, hoping they’d make friends.
Then, prepared or not (mostly not), they had to watch these same boys (so close to becoming men) get on a plane or a bus and head off to boot camp, notorious and named such for being grueling. Then maybe get a brief visit before watching them deploy, oftentimes to a place fraught with war.
They live in fear of getting “the call.” Of seeing that vehicle with a military insignia pull up in front of their house.
They pray for physical safety from IEDs, the enemy, chopper accidents and equipment malfunctions. They pray for the mental and emotional damage that is often unseen until that young man returns home and tries to re-enter civilian life.
And they pray vigilantly for their sons to return home safely one day.
Gives a different meaning to Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, or July Fourth, doesn’t it?
If you are a military mom, I encourage you to try this group. Nobody will force you to do anything — they just want to be there for support.
If, like me, you’re a friend to a military mom, I hope your eyes have been opened just a bit to what they’re enduring while their child is serving our country.
And it’s my hope that we all keep our military in our prayers daily. They are the reason we have the freedoms we enjoy. May we never take them for granted.
Deanna Brown is a Daily Sun staff writer and editor of Explore magazine. Her column appears on Sundays. She may be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Want to “Soundoff” on this column? Email: email@example.com