It broke my heart this week as I read the articles about suicide being up among our military – those deployed and those at home. Regardless of what you think about war and this one in particular, war and the conflicts caused by evil in this world are hard on families. Personally, I have never had to say good bye to a loved one serving our country knowing that there is a chance that might be my last goodbye. But as a wife and a mom, I can only imagine how hard it is. As we see from our current Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates, the trepidation of releasing a child to serve their country affects even families like John McCain, Joe Biden and Sarah Palin.
This summer in our many travels, we saw a lot of soldiers in the airports. Sometimes there were just 2 or 3 making their way across the country to an unknown situation. Often there were dozens of men and women in uniform, on their cell phones, standing in line for something to eat, waiting just like the rest of us, but what was waiting for them is probably nothing that they would have chosen for this time in their life.
And in the midst of their travel, occasionally a civilian would catch their eye and smile or give them a thumbs up or even venture a “thanks for serving.” Those simple gestures of gratitude interrupted their serious reverie and brought a smile to their face. I wish I had expressed my gratitude more often and had the courage to let them know I was praying for them.
Speaking of praying for our soldiers, I do it often but not often enough. Not only do we need to pray for those who have enlisted and wear a uniform, but we need to pray often for:
· Their families – moms, dads, grandparents, wives, husbands, children, siblings, fiancés
· Those in command – our political leaders, our military leaders and those in charge internationally
· Those who care for the military and their families and make decisions for their ongoing well being.
There are many opportunities – faith based and otherwise- to come alongside a soldier and their family. The regular contact, availability and encouragement goes a long way to help those who are struggling—some, even to the point of wanting to take their own lives.
What a great ministry in which to involve your kids. In the book, Raising Kids for True Greatness, Tim talks about the importance of raising our kids for something greater than themselves by teaching them to have a passionate love for Jesus Christ that shows itself in an unquenchable love and concern for others. Right now some of the “others” who need our love and gratitude are those who cared enough for us to sign up for a life that takes them down some very hard paths. What better way to teach your kids true greatness than to let them serve the truly great.
This past week, our daughter Shiloh, who is in her final semester of nursing school at Arizona State University, examined a 92 year old man’s heart. After determining that his ticker was in good shape for an almost centurion, she found out that he had fought in the Battle of the Bulge. Unlike many her age, she was very knowledgeable of this horrendous battle. After inquiring whether or not this gentleman knew her grandfather Kimmel, who also fought in that pivotal battle, she did what I hope all of us remember to do the next time we have the opportunity, she said “thank you for serving our country”. It made his day.