Saturday, November 13, 2010

Home Waits For You Soldier

Four years ago this month the faithful prayers of friends and family brought our son home from Iraq. To say we were thankful would have been to understate the gratitude we felt with all of its jubilant overtones and reverent undertones. To this day, every day, I remember to be thankful.

But other sons and daughters remain away from their families as we approach another holiday season as a nation at war. (64 lost their lives in Afghanistan just last month.) We must not leave our military out there without our support. We must continue to weave our prayerful protection around those on the field. At the same time we must ask God's healing for those who have returned whose injuries physical and emotional have brought many to the brink of despair. May God minister His peace to all. May he bring them all "Home."

The following is something we sent to friends as an email when JD was still in Iraq in 2006. I offer it now because it speaks of "Home" in a way we need to understand. May those in Iraq and those in Afghanistan know those of us at home are praying and waiting for their safe return. May those at home but hurting soldiers and veterans know we are here for them.

America is having another birthday although there are many of her sons and daughters who will never see another one. Many will watch others set off black cats or bottle rockets because they can no longer run when the fuse is lit. More more will hang back as the parades they once marched in go by because their new prosthesis is still a bit strange and it can't seem to count. Some will remember buddies they can no longer call or email. Some will grieve for limbs lost and at the same time thank God they have a lap where a tiny child sits and says, "Daddy, make your chair go faster...Faster!" Every day sacrifice is added to sacrifice and we are reminded of how not free freedom is.

Soldiers have so many different reasons for enlisting. John David had about an even dozen. Some I bought. Some not. Our President had many reasons for going to war in Iraq. Some I bought. Some not. There are things I do not understand and things I have come to know too well.

This I do know, that the men and women on foreign soil are our men and women and once there, the thing they think of, and dream of, and speak of most, is home. No calling card ever has enough minutes, no letter is long enough. There can never be enough packages. There is never enough sleep or enough food or water or clean underwear but there is an abundance of prayer and hope and courage and talk about home.

There are pictures taped in Humvees, prayer cards and love letters slipped into Kevlar vests and there are always thoughts of home. "When I get back, you can make me Pancake Mountain and all the Tater Tots you can find." When I get back, I'm going to get in the shower and stay there three days." "When this is over, I'm going to curl up with my dog, my wife,...I'm going to surf, hike, bike...I'm going to smell good when I get home and I will never go to another memorial service ever again." "I'm going to sleep without a helmet!" " We'll go for tea." Every soldier I have talked to has his or her own version but home is always the essential ingredient.

Whatever the reason they went to war it is all about home now. For some of them it is not just about their home but about providing a safe home for the citizens of the countries they serve in. No matter how awful the news is about renegade soldiers there are those gentle warriors who vaccinate children, bring widows food after dark so the neighbors don't see who is giving it, give their own clothes to warm someone who is cold, make the roads safe for an old woman to vote or shop or go to prayers, find good homes for stray puppies. Home is peach trees in Georgia or cherry trees in Washington State but there are soldiers who know the palm trees in Baghdad are also someones home. Home is the best part of each of us and home is always worth fighting for.

May God Bless America, the home to so many different kinds of people. May the things we treasure not be things at all. May we always give as it has been given to us. May we always hold dear those who have given so much. May we always recognize that "every good and perfect gift" really does come from God's hand. May we keep a light in the window and in our hearts until all our troops are "home."

I found this poem and thought it said it well:

The Things That Make a Soldier Great

The things that make a soldier great and send him out to die
To face the flaming cannon's mouth and never question why
Are lilacs by a little porch, the row of tulips red
The peonies and pansies too, the old petunia bed
The grass plot where his children play, the roses on the wall
Tis these that make a soldier great, he's fighting for them all.

Tis not the pomp and pride of kings that make a soldier brave
Tis not allegiance to the flag that over him may wave
For soldiers never fight so well on land or on the foam
As when behind the cause they see the little place called home
Endanger but that humble street whereon his children run
You make a soldier of the man who never bore a gun

What is it through the battle smoke the valiant soldier sees
The little garden far away, the budding apple trees
The little patch of ground back there, the children at their play
Perhaps a tiny mound behind the simple church of gray
The golden thread of courage isn't linked to castle dome
But to the spot where'er it be - the humble spot called home

And now the lilacs bloom again and all is lovely there
And homesick soldiers far away know spring is in the air
The tulips come to bloom again, the grass once more is green
And every man can see the spot where all his joys have been
He sees his children smile at him, he hears the bugle call
And only death can stop him now he's fighting for them all

~ by Steve Vaus ~


God Bless our troops. Let them know home remembers them on this their eighth Thanksgiving on foreign soil. I am attaching this link to pictures from Afghanistan. They are graphic. One needs more clothes. They will all give you an idea of where our soldiers are and why they, and the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, need our prayers. God be God for us. We will not cease to pray because the war grows overlong. If the light in the window burns low we will replace it until all are "Home."

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