This is something I have been milling over since before I began this blog. And I have gone back and forth on it for several reasons. It doesn't exactly touch on what my purpose is with this blog (or so I thought). But more so, it isn't something that I have much experience with. Really I don't have any experience with part of it and that is mainly because of what part of the Army my husband is in now and has been in since I have known him. But it is something that I have always thought about, wondered about, wanted to get some perspective on. And so, I turned to a friend, who is a soldier, and asked for her opinion on the subject.
Everything is centered around "Army Wives". The title is everywhere, we claim it, we respond to it, we live it. But that title holds only one meaning that people recognize - a male soldier and a female spouse. But not all soldiers are men and not all spouses are women. They fall through the cracks. We forget them.
And we forget them in different ways. I have never met a male spouse of a female soldier who was not also a soldier himself so it is easy for me to forget. And I wonder how much harder the civilian male spouses must have it. Everything that volunteers are taught, everything that defines the Army family, everything that we say and that we think and that we organize has an underlying, un-noticed assumption of the "traditional" Army family make-up. And it must be difficult - to be a female soldier and to be a male spouse.
We forget that these women are WOMEN for a moment. We see them as soldiers, the same as we see our husbands, but maybe we forget that below the training bruises, behind the gun, inside the same uniform that the men wear they are still women. Feeling, passionate, courageous women. And the men who stand beside them, who have taken vows, who hold the same fears as any "Army Wife", who pray for the same safety to follow their wives into battle, who sacrifice, who hold a family together, who persevere until that same day when their spouses return home, go unnoticed at times.
It is not just fathers and sons and husbands who defend this nation. It is not just mothers and daughters and wives who remain behind, waiting, praying, loving, and supporting. It is mothers and daughters and wives and sisters who leave their families, who kiss their babies and know the next time they see them they will be walking, who hold back their tears and pull the courage from deep within themselves to fulfill their mission. It is fathers and sons and husbands who hold them for the last time, and raise those new babies, and love and pray and wait.
We forget them because it is easy to. We forget them because they are in the minority. It isn't right. The ease with which they go unnoticed doesn't provide an excuse.
Their sacrifice is the same. Their separation is equal. Their pride is no less than mine. Their courage is no less tested, grace no less necessary.
They enter into the battle - those who are sent forward and those who stay behind. They should not be forgotten. They should not be dismissed. Never - not for a moment.
Gratitude for the sacrifice belongs to them - to the women who serve and to the men who also know what it means to love a soldier.
"A soldier doesn't fight because he hates what is in front of him. A soldier fights because he loves what he left behind." - unknown
"God is our refuge and strength. He will protect us and make us strong" (ps 46:1). For those who will fly today, for those who are there now, and for those who will soon join the fight, Lord, shield them from all evil, strengthen their hearts, and bring them home safely.