November 20th, 2008 by CJ
I found this essay, written by the father of a deployed Soldier, on the American Legion website. It was introduced into the Congressional Record by Frank R. Wolf, R-Va, on September 16th. It's a very touching and inspirational story should be required reading by the defeatists in Congress. Here it is:
“Whatever your political take on the war in Iraq, nothing can alter it more than having a loved one in the midst of it. Nor is anyone’s current perspective balanced until they hear at least some things from a soldier’s point of view.
“My wife and I learned these truths when our son, a 2004 Handley graduate, decided to join the Army in 2006. His reasoning was simple: he wasn’t comfortable knowing that thousands of others his age were sacrificing their own freedoms to protect his. When he signed up to join those thousands, it changed our perspective as well.
“Up to that point, it had always been other people’s sons and daughters doing the fighting. Now it would be our own child. Naturally, no one wants their child to volunteer to go in harm’s way for freedom’s sake. It was something of a conviction, though, when my wife and I had to ask ourselves why it shouldn’t be our own son in the Middle East, why we should be spared the rituals of anxiety, prayer, hope and waiting that tens of thousands of other families over here have already endured.
“In early June, we flew to Fort Hood, Texas, to see our son deploy for a 15-month tour in Iraq. Again, one’s perspective is limited until one attends a deploying ceremony for a unit of soldiers. Spouses, children, parents, siblings and friends, all crowding a gym, all clinging closely to their treasures in uniform, accompanied by flags, prayers, cheers and tears. Our son had joined a ‘band of brothers.’ My wife and I had joined the ‘band of others’ who would be waiting at home. Both those going, and those left behind, carry the war on terror in a personal way.
“Still, those of us left behind need to see something of what our soldiers see, and not only what is offered us in the news. To that end, here is one story our son, Luke, shared with us by phone that must be shared with anyone who claims an interest in what our soldiers are doing in the Middle East.
“Stationed outside a city on the Tigris River, Luke had accompanied his colonel into town as part of a security team, while the colonel spoke with a local sheik. While standing guard, Luke noticed a woman approaching from behind and cautiously turned in her direction, his rifle at the ready.
“An interpreter told our son it was OK – the woman just wanted to touch a soldier. Still uneasy, Luke stood still while the woman reached out her hand and touched his face, tears in her eyes.
“Looking to the interpreter for meaning, our son was told that the woman simply ‘wanted to touch the face of grace.’ It seems this trembling woman, like most of the people in her town, looked upon our soldiers as angels of grace, sent by God to protect her from the violence and oppression her people had come to know up to then. Learning this, our son squeezed and kissed the woman’s hand, and she left, weeping.
“The ‘face of grace.’ How many of us, safe at home debating the politics of the war on terror, have ever seen our soldiers in such a light? How many of us have even read such an uplifting newspaper account of our soldiers?
“To be sure, our soldiers are not virtuous simply by being soldiers. At home in their ‘civvies’ they are as un-angelic as the rest of us. Yet when they voluntarily get into ‘full battle rattle’ (as they call their battle gear) in a hot and hostile land, their job is both protective and sacrificial – as angelic a purpose as humans can take on.
“People like this woman, having suffered years of oppression and fear, have eyes and a heart to see this, and the desire to “‘touch the face of grace.’ Do we have the ability to see our soldiers in the same way? And not merely our soldiers: Can we see the ‘face of grace’ in the police who protect us in every town, day and night? Or in the fire and rescue teams who are ‘soldiers’ in their own right?
“My wife and I obviously pray that our son and his ‘band of brothers’ will come safely home to their personal ‘band of others.’ After listening to our son’s experience, though, we have added the prayer that Americans in every community will be given the eyes and heart to see the ‘Face of Grace’ in all who protect our lives and freedoms – especially in soldiers like our son.”