May 15, 2009

Speaking as a mother of a soldier

© Emma Lopez 2009 all rights reserved

I have never been to war, but I have sent a child. Twice.

My husband is a Marine, a Vietnam Veteran. My son is a Army Veteran,and My daughter is in the Air Force Security Forces, and Veteran of two Wars, Afghanistan and Iraq at the age of 23.

I received many encouraging words from moms when I mention that watching a child go to war is the most heartbreaking event a parent can endure. I spent my child's growing up years making sure she knew right from wrong and, hopefully, I have taught her life's values.

I guess the feelings are the same for those left behind when it is a wife or a husband that leaves. Yet, I can assure you that the intensity is different. It's a feeling that only mothers can identify with.

We, as parents, smile bravely as our own soldiers leave, and we tell ourselves, "Be strong, we'll find the strength." The truth is we find only distractions from our pain. We go through our daily routines, and we attempt to maintain some serenity, but life has changed for us.

I think about my daughter all day in everything I do. When I eat, I wonder what she is eating. Is she eating a hot meal or a cold meal? I shop to send items my daughter needs.

I put together a care package, and I stand in long lines at the post office to mail it. As I wait my turn, I talk about her to anyone who listens. The pictures are pulled out, and everyone wants a glimpse of one of our heroes. I pray for her safety, and all those soldiers overseas.

I learn to use computers, cell phones, webcams, and other available technology in order to stay in touch with her. I listen for my computer to make that distinct sound (a ring, ring) which announces that my daughter is online. I hear my phone make that special sound my daughter programmed into the cell phone so I would know it is she on the other end.

Standing in line, people around me smile when I explain, "It's my daughter. She's calling from Iraq." Many times, people tell me, "Thank your daughter for me."

Let the soldiers know you care. Don't hesitate to shake the hand of soldiers when you see them walking down the street, taking a subway, or riding a bus. They will feel grateful for that one small gesture -- their sacrifices noticed, their efforts rewarded.


"God Bless USA."