This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends John 15:12-13 (NKJV)
On February 28, 1991, I was in a yogurt store with husband and oldest son who had just turned five. It was a Thursday night so I don’t know why we were in a neighboring city eating yogurt on a school night, but I do remember clearly what was showing on the television screen. President Bush made a speech and announced that a cease fire had been negotiated. The Gulf War, or Operation Desert Storm was over. Although I was alive during the Vietnam War and remember the images on television then, the Gulf War was the first war of my adulthood. More importantly, the first war when I was the mother of a boy and pregnant with another to be born less than a month later. Life changes when you are the mother of a boy. You see all those soldiers and think about their mothers. Those women who cherished the memories of the day their son learned to walk, to ride a bike without training wheels or to drive a car. They remember his first day of school, how he loved his dog and then, a girl. How he tracked dirt in on the floor and messed up the bathroom. She can quote the funny things he said, and still has his artwork on her refrigerator even though it’s been years since he held a crayon in his hand. Then, she sends him off to war and prays he will return home whole and healthy and alive. I know there are mothers who send their daughters off to war these days, but I don’t think my fears would have been so great if I had been the mother of a daughter. But, sons, well, sons are different matter. Sons register for the draft on the day they get their driver’s license. I did not realize how much I had subconsciously held onto those things until the night in that yogurt store when the war ended. And out of a secret place within me bubbled up such joy and relief. The war was over! Little did I know that ten years later we would be involved in another war spread across two continents. Or that both of my sons would seriously contemplate a career in the military. With one rising through the ranks of Civil Air Patrol and the other in ROTC as High Schoolers, they both came very close to enlisting. But, something held them back. Even now, as they both look for full time jobs in careers they love, they know that if they had military experience they would find jobs sooner. But, something still holds them back. I often wonder if it isn’t the prayers I have prayed since that night in 1991. Selfish, I know, but I am not sure how strong I would be if they went off to fight and never returned. It is hard enough having them in dangerous public service here at home. Other mothers do it everyday. God bless them.