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Hell on the Homefront
Photo: MorgueFile
“…These are the ones who really suffer.” Tears welled up in the eyes of the khaki-clad soldier as he introduced me to his wife and two sons. We had enjoyed our annual Christmas event at the church, and had included a poem about soldiers and the holiday season. This warrior who had recently returned from his tour in Iraq was kind enough to be part of the program and stood at attention next to a flag as the poem was read. It was a simple, stunning moment, and involuntary tears trickled down the cheeks of more than just a few that were in attendance.

As the audience exited the church, I stuck out my hand and said, “Thanks for your service to our country.” “That’s O.K.,” he replied, “but these are the ones who really suffer.” He motioned towards his wife and children as he introduced them. I looked into the eyes of his young spouse. They were red and swollen. This father and husband had only recently returned from his tour of duty, and would be called to serve his country in that capacity again after the holidays were over.

Angry that War Exists

I noticed the tiny baby she was holding in her arms, and as I bent down to shake the little hand of their three-year-old son I was overtaken with emotion and the unfairness of it all. I was angry to think that this three-year-old boy would have to love his daddy long-distance with no guarantee of his return. I was angry that this woman in her 20’s would have to try to hold their little family together without the physical presence of the man she adored. But most of all I was angry that war exists in the first place.

It’s been a while since all of this happened, but that scene hasn’t left my mind. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the fact that war isn’t just “hell” for our heroes who fight daily battles in other places and sleep in strange beds away from their families. War is “hell” on the homefront as well.

As an ordinary citizen, I may not be able to make lasting changes in governmental affairs, but I can do more than just say “Oh, that’s too bad” to myself when I see these heart-breaking situations. Perhaps I could make a phone call, or drop a card to tell them I’m praying for them. Or maybe I could have my children deliver a loaf of homemade bread that my wife made. We could even stop by and see if there’s some small odd-job that we could perform that her husband would have taken care of had he been here.

It may not be much but it’s something, and it shows those who live the daily “hell” of war on the homefront that others care. It tangibly demonstrates that we appreciate the service of those who unselfishly try to make our world a safer place. It’s the least we can do.

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By Michael Temple. Copyright © 2007 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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