Saturday, September 02, 2006

A mother's son - "Beetle Bailey"

The first thing a stranger might notice about "beetle bailey" is his young,
boyish face. He seems soooooooooo young. Then you might look into his piercing blue eyes....And you would know this is no innocent half boy, half man that you see on any street in America. This young man is a veteran of the Iraqi war. He is too young to buy a beer in his local bar but he is old enough to kill a man in the service of his country, in a land far far away.

I have been friends with this young man's family for many years and I remember well his childhood, his growing days. As I look into his eyes, I still see the echoes of the innocent before war changed him forever. But as I listen to his mum talk with pride of her child who is now a hero, I hear the values that he was raised with - the values of right and wrong, and he is still the same kid I knew, but now more so. Coming from a military family - following in the footsteps of five generations of heroes, this young man rejects the label of 'hero' for himself. Like many veterans I have known, have spoken to, of all ages, he simply states "I just do my job - do what is right". He loves the Army life. He did basic between Junior and Senior year in high school, before he graduated. He then decided he wanted to go into active service. Mum remembers well the night he told her that. She was in one room on her computer. He was in HIS room on his computer. He instant messaged her and told her his decision.

To say mum almost fell over - well. But like all mums of the young men and women fighting the Global War on Terror, she supported his decision 110% as she knew that's what he wanted to do; is what he needed to do. AIT followed, and his first duty station, and then he heard he was being deployed to Iraq in a few months. Again mum didnt know if she could handle it. But, it was his choice, and her only choice as she saw it, was to stand with him, support him as she had always done That is what mums of heroes have done since time began..Read your history books Smile

But as he left home for a year's mission, mum thought about this beloved son of hers, her 'baby'. For the first time ever, he would be away for his birthday, and his first Halloween away from family would, for him, mean very different explosions and fireworks. The first Thanksgiving with an empty seat at the family dinner table, and hardest of all for mum, his first Christmas far away from the family traditions. Mum knew then that like many other brave men and women, while the family carves the turkey as usual, the kids are somewhere out there, focussing on life and death issues. Hard for any mum, hard for any enlisted man or woman. But mum survived and, she thanks God, so did her child.

While in the sandbox, he made sure to call her and email her as often as he could, touching base with the cornerstone of his heritage. "Don't worry mom, I'm fine..." even on those days when in the tone of his voice, she could hear what he could not say - that this particular day had been really, really hard for him. He saw things, and did things that he could never share with her. Mum would marvel at the role reversals. She always believed it is the mums who reassure their children that the world is a safe place, assure them that mum can always fix all wrongs. Now her son would be fighting every day, but always thinking of his mum, and the need he had to tell her that he was fine, and was fixing the world by serving his country. He came home a few months back, and mum sees not only her son, but a well matured young man, who now has a wisdom
beyond his young years. Mum will tell you that she sees him and his fellow soldiers as heroes, and the pride in her voice rings, and her eyes shines bright. Her son's reaction to his mum's 'hero' talk? "Mom, I am not a hero. The only heroes we have are the guys that were not able to walk, talk or see their families as I am right now. The heroes are the ones KIA, so please don't say I'm a hero anymore." I wasn't there the day he told his mum that, but she cries as she tells me this, and I cry too. And in her tears, mum asks me to remember him and all the soldiers out there. She always prays for all the other families with beloved children in all the branches of the military. Those heroes may say they are "just doing my job", but to every mother (and every auntybrat!) they are now, and will always be, heroes. God bless every mother's son and daughter.
"Every soldier is one of our own"


Georgia Blogger