No more weekend warriors.
A five-year-old boy with dimpled cheeks, the image of his father, stands watching his daddy say good-bye to his crying mother. As daddy stoops to kiss his head, he looks up and he says, "Daddy what does war mean? Does it mean you are going far away? When will you be back again?" The young boy doesn't know why his mother is crying. He doesn't know that mommy is afraid that daddy may never come home again.
A little girl with golden curls and bright blue eyes watches her father's ship pull out to sea. She doesn't know why daddy's leaving or what all the fuss is about. She says, "Mommy where is daddy going, is he going to ride his boat again? Last time he was gone forever it seems, will it be as long as then?" Mommy tells her this time will be longer. She silently prays she never has to tell her daughter that daddy's never coming home again.
Two young boys stretch their necks to look up into daddy's eyes. Behind them, standing next to big sister, their weeping mother cries. "Is this a movie or is this for real?" the older boy asks. "You're a teacher, not a soldier," the younger son chimes in. "A full time teacher, a part time pilot," their father says with a smile. "When our country calls I must answer, it's a duty I must obey."
A young girl sobs as her grandmother looks over her shoulder with weeping eyes. "Why must I stay with Nanna?" the young girl asks. "I though only boys went off to war." "In the past that was so," the weeping mother says. "Today we share the burden with the boys, we must also do our part."
A young Veteran sits on the side of his hospital bed with tears in his eyes. He holds the time worn edges of old love letters tightly to his chest. His legs are gone, his love is gone, but these faded cards of love are memories he will cherish forever. Last spring he was a college student, today he is a Disabled Veteran.
An older Veteran of wars gone by looks sadly out his window. He shares this room with others who remember days of past glory. He watches with tears in his eyes as their families bring them cards of love and hugs of comfort. He has no family, except the family of warriors waiting for him in the cemetery.
All across the width and depth of our great land these scenes and hundreds like them are being played out as families are torn apart because of our nation's need.
There was a time when, "Weekend Warrior," meant just that. One weekend a month for training, two weeks in the summer for intensive training, and the remainder of the year these 'Citizen Soldiers' were free to pursue their careers as teachers, doctors, truck drivers, grocers, clerks, and so on. Not any more. Today they are more and more becoming the backbone of America's defense.
There are thousands of 'Weekend Warriors' far from home and scattered around the world for many months to come. Most will return home safely with harsh and frightening memories they'd rather forget. Others will return to join the thousands of Veterans who left part of themselves on distant battlefields.
Please take the time to pay your respect to these wonderful citizen soldiers and to all American warriors, the bravest of the brave. If you do not know a military family, there are hundreds of Veterans in hospitals who would welcome a visit, a card. or simply - a touch of love.