Happy Veterans Day: Kill Any Babies?
This post was originally published on Veteran's Day 2013 on my blog here.
It had been a long weekend in the Texas sun. The state guardsman reached for the refrigerator door and a welcome shower of cool air fell over his long military sleeves.
Looking over the grocer's jugs of milk, searching for the best date, his hand lingered on a handle for just a moment.
That's when he heard it.
"Kill any babies."
The tone was aimed directly at him. And it wasn't in the form of a question.
Quietly the father retrieved the milk his wife asked for and he straightened. He was on the way home from weekend guard duty. They would be deploying for hurricane relief soon. It would mean a pay cut, but that's what guardsman do. They go where they are needed. Local relief, wars in distant lands, bringing war criminals before the Hague so they can stand trial for their crimes against humanity; guardsmen and reservists help fill the gap.
On the one hand, it's sad that our military is paid so small for such great sacrifice and threat of safety. And yet, you wouldn't want a military that was made up of people who were only there for the money. It would be a dangerous thing. You need men and women who are willing to be of service, to offer a sacrifice of their personal wants and needs for those of another, to help maintain this bubble we live in and call the U.S.. And today guardsmen are depended upon more and more.
So much is given when someone says to Uncle Sam, OK - my life is yours to command. Not to mention given of the mothers, mates and children left behind. Not to mention, sometimes even unto death. Our military needs to know its people love them. So to hear something like this is just... demoralizing.
I chose to write about an uncomfortable subject today, in honor of Veterans Day, because it's a silent abuse that no one talks about. That father was my husband. And this kind of treatment of veterans is not often talked about but it happens. All too frequently. It happens to the families who support their soldiers. It happened to me just for "allowing" my husband to enlist in the army guard after 9/11. Not to mention the persecution against children of soldiers.
I don't know what the answers are, but the story needs to be told. It's bad enough when free people forget to say thank you to those who voluntarily give up their freedom to serve the greater good. But this other stuff? Whatever it is?
"Kill any babies."
My husband straightened up, milk in hand.
Taking a deep breath, he looked at the older woman, but only briefly.
He steeled his jaw and pivoted away, replying just simply this:
To our brothers and sisters in arms and to the families at home waiting for them: we salute your sacrifice and service and we embrace you as our own. We promise to teach our children to value what you give. May God be with you all and bring you safely home.
Julia M. Chambers