I, like my mother before me, was a war bride. Walker and I jumped right from college to marriage in thirty days time. The necessity for a commitment seemed more urgent to us because of the inevitable prospect of him heading for Vietnam sooner rather than later if he remained single. During Vietnam the prospect of not returning at all loomed large in all our minds. After forty three years, and four children, I’m thinking we acted wisely, if in haste.
Unlike during World War II, having a wife and expecting a child provided some reprieve from overseas duty in Vietnam for a while. Daddy left for the Phillipines before I was born, and then was gone for a year and a half or so. Walker left when Molly was five weeks old, eighteen months after our wedding, and returned a year later to resume our life as a family.
Although serving in the military provided both Daddy and Walker with leadership skills they might never have realized otherwise, I’m truly grateful that my sons-in-law avoided carrying on that family tradition. They have been around to form a loving bond with all their children as infants, while they're still adorable!
My heart aches every time I see young soldiers bid their families good-bye for a tour of duty. It’s really surreal for me to see mothers leaving children behind in order to assure a better world for children half way across the globe. I can remember holding my sobs in so tightly that my heart truly ached when Walker put Molly and me on the plane in San Francisco to return to Fort Sill. I navigated the unknown task of being a single mom with the support of my friends and family while he endured the jungles of Viet Nam with his squadron. I can't imagine how hard it would have been if Molly had been old enough to realize how much she missed her Daddy.
I can remember Walker’s attitude being, “Somebody’s got to do it.” while mine was “But what about US?” (Molly and me) He could understand the honor in serving much more than I, who would have happily escaped to Canada given the choice. His was the honorable choice for sure.
Yes, I’m thankful for their service and proud of the sacrifices they made. I do hope that history will prove that those wars and the ones we fight today had to be fought to change the world into a better place. My greatest hope, however, is that the day will come when nobody has to do it. A day when all people can respect the rights of others to believe as they wish and recognize the futility of trying to please God by oppressing others. That day surely must be around the corner. I’ll never be Miss America, but I too hope for World Peace on this Veteran's Day.