As we celebrate another of our nation’s birthday this Independence Day, I am reminded of a July 4th post I wrote back in 2011 when my son, Rob, was deployed to Afghanistan. Rob is home now, but re-reading the post today brings all those feelings back to me. It also makes me feel a deep gratitude that he returned with his body, and his psyche, intact. I will forever feel grateful for that.
I still feel connected to those who served in that faraway country. I am privileged to have worked as a counselor with Marines, Soldiers, Airmen, and Sailors who were deployed and returned from Afghanistan and Iraq. Their stories are chilling, young men who know the horrors of war and are still trying to make sense of it all.
The ones who are still deployed, still in danger, the ones who are struggling, and the many who are wounded warriors.
Think for a moment about the ones who did not return. Think about their families. Pause for a moment - for all of them.
Here is the original post from 2011, slightly edited for clarity:
July 4, 2011
I wonder what Rob & the other Marines will be doing on this day when we celebrate our nation’s independence and freedom. How many patrols will he be out on today? Will he be in a humvee or on foot? Just exactly how hot will it be? I think about these things as we go to the 100F mark here & my house is 87F inside tonight. Even with A/C, I’m hot. I imagine he would smile if he heard me complain, especially since I don’t have to strap on 80 pounds of gear to begin the day and think of air conditioning as some distant luxury.
I wonder how he feels about us celebrating the 4th with fireworks while everyday over there I imagine he sees and hears deadly “fireworks” as a normal thing. I imagine he doesn’t have time to think about much except staying alive.
Remember that old John Travolta song, “Stayin’ Alive’? Rob was always great at dancing when he heard that iconic Saturday Night Fever song, waving his hand across his body just like Travolta. And now he’s “stayin alive,” watching out for IEDs and “bad guys.”
I think he’d think it was cool if he knew I was participating in a Cross Fit class in the morning dedicated to him…all organized by his beautiful wife and his thoughtful sister-in-law.
I wonder what he’d say if he knew we’d be making our annual trek to the high school grounds at 6:00pm where families sit on blankets, play frisbee, and we all watch skydivers jump out of planes and land triumphantly right in front of us. My husband and I will be in our folding chairs on the front row as usual, having a picnic of roasted eggplant, fresh cucumbers from my garden in a Greek salad, fresh peaches, and a glass of red wine.
When the sun dies down, we’ll wait for the first cascade of bursting white lights and we’ll hear the loud blasts and see the spectacular firework display from the comfort of our own blankets as it cools off and the smoke will be everywhere afterwards in the starry night.
Rob doesn’t wonder about any of this ‘cause he’s just stayin’ alive.
I love you, Robbo.
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