A dear friend of mine recently said good-bye to her son, Chad Wade, as he heads off to Afghanistan. He's a United States Marine. This is the second person I've known personally in the last year or so who's Marine son has gone off to war. I can't imagine how they cope.
Those of you who know me well know my own son died in a car accident 8 years ago. He was 17 and a senior in high school and he wanted to go to college then join the U.S. Air Force and fly fighters. If he'd have lived to see his dream he would most likely be in Afghanistan today. But he's not there. I'm grateful he never had to see the horrors of war but, of course, I'd rather have him back. But I can tell you first hand that while the pain of losing a child is horrible, it must be infinitely worse to live with the fear of your child's death on a daily basis.
The first woman I mentioned, who's son left over a year ago, apologized once for expressing her fears and worries about her own son knowing I didn't have mine anymore. I asked her to please never apologize for that and not to feel guilty for expressing those fears. Not only did she have every right to worry but I know where my son is and have come to terms with it, while her nightmare was ongoing. (He should be home by now and while I haven't had contact with her for a while, I hope he's home safely.)
Every parent who says good-bye to a child who's headed for a war has my utmost respect and admiration, as well as my sincerest sympathies for the nightmare that is just beginning. Every time there's a news report saying a U.S. service member was killed in Afghanistan those parents freeze and their hearts sieze up. And I can certainly understand it. Every parent I've ever met of a Marine thinks of each Marine in their son's unit as one of their own, particularly during war time. So it doesn't matter if they didn't know him, each Marine who dies is one of their own.
Chad Wade is headed back for a second tour. He's a good man, a good son, a good husband, a great American and a patriot. We will pray daily for Chad's safe return and for his wife and his mother, who suffer every minute he's gone. I haven't even met him yet but I'm looking forward to that day. Keep your head down Chad. Thank you for your service to our country and its people. You are greatly appreciated. Thank you to all the men and women serving in our armed forces, whether in a war zone or not, but especially those in harm's way. It is because of gallant people like you that we still live in the greatest country in the world.