How we react (or don't react) is for each one of us to decide. There is a time to speak and a time to remain silent. We each have to choose in these moments.
"Aren't you scared he will die?"
"Aren't you mad at him for leaving?"
"Why can't he come home for Christmas?"
"Don't you think he'll cheat on you?"
"He can't come home now that they got Bin Laden?"
"What if he loses his legs?"
"I thought he only had to deploy once? Don't they only have to do one each?"
"Why are you moving again?"
"He has to leave to train? Why can't he train where you are?"
"When can he get out?"
"Why did he join? Couldn't he get another job?"
We all hear them - over and over and over and over again. Day in and day out. From strangers, from friends, from family. And these are the most testing of times.
We all have to remember how much people truly don't know about this life. How many people think that they are doing the right thing by asking such questions - thinking it shows compassion, sympathy, understanding. We know how much it doesn't. But you must be patient. You must keep grace.
These questions can be big moments or small moments, sincere or combative, but whichever they are you must be the bigger person. You must make a choice. These questions all stem from the same place - a misunderstanding on what it is to be a soldier, to love a soldier, to support our families. And in these moments you make the choice whether or not you will change one person's way of thinking - whether or not you will help to break the cycle. Because if you can help one person to not ask another new wife if she is scared her young husband will die, or lose his legs, or cheat on her, or come back a different person ... If you can help one person to see the danger in asking a young wife if she is angry with him for leaving, or isn't it hard to do it alone, or saying how wrong it is for her to have to ...
Think about the change you can make. To help just one person understand the service that those we love have chosen to perform - who love this country. To help just one person understand the choice that they have made. To help a single person understand what things they should and shouldn't say.
It's the little choices that truly define our character, that mold who we are and determine how we will be when the big moments arise. How we live daily, what we believe daily, what we choose daily, gives the grace for these questions, gives the strength to make a difference, gives the strength to be patient.
Each of us just needs that little extra bit of grace, that little extra bit of patience, to give just one person a little better understanding. A better understand that they share with another who shares with another who keeps it going and fights against the misunderstanding that breaks our hearts.
Just a little bit, little choices everyday, and we can begin to break the cycle.