By: Steve Trubilla
“Mom I miss you, tell everyone I love them”. A line from a typical letter an American kid writes that is deployed somewhere in the world at Christmas time.
To many this will seem uneventful. Military service has become less and less of an option for most in our country today. Statistics show less than one percent of people now serve.
Fewer in Congress now have served in the military than any other time in our history.
Military service was once considered tradition for many; such things were part of the fabric of life.
It used to be just about everyone had a family member that at some point wore a uniform. I remember as a child during holidays there was always talk of this or that person that had served in WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. I even remember stories about the Spanish American War, and an ancestor that is said to have been at Valley Forge with Washington.
There were somber moments of those killed or terribly wounded. Conversations had a way of drifting to family history. You know, things like remember when John or Mary did this or that, “to bad they are overseas and cannot be here this year, well may be next year”.
Then, as now, there were always people unhappy about things. At the end of it all there was always a sense of national pride and patriotism. This is something I think we have lost.
People had the sense America was a place that lit up the world with hope. It was “we the people” and “united we stand”. There was no “press one for English”. I do not really remember anyone talking about being hyphenated Americans. Everyone was just an American.
Some doing better than others, but most did not think they were better than others.
It was prayer in schools and “I pledge allegiance to the flag”
I do not remember a time when our country has been more divided. Nor a time when I was more concerned for the future.
Self-interest seems to outweigh all other things, as one group is pitted against another.
The other person’s troubles or loss is not ours to be concerned with, so the other person becomes invisible when they are most in need.
Even though around the world Christians are being more and more persecuted, Christmas time in America is still a special time. It is a time to remember some of those that have become invisible.
Truly, if there is hope for the future this is something we can all agree upon.
The list of these people is endless, but I want to bring attention to a very special group of them. They are Gold Star moms and dads.
Many reading this may not know of Gold Star parents. These people are the mothers and fathers that have lost someone to war.
For them wars are not over. They will never again receive the “Mom I miss you” letter. John or Mary will not be there next year.
The same is also true for many parents, and other family members, that their loved ones come home crippled or mentally forever trapped in a long ago battle.
Christmas is less special for these people. Most of them do not speak of it. The headlines that reported what happened have long since faded. Now they simply endure.
Yes, now only less than one percent serves in the military. For some, it cost hundred percent.
Somewhere today in an underfunded retirement home there is a forgotten old woman, maybe eighty four or five years old.
She is sitting alone at a window.
It is snowing; no one has visited her for more than two years.
It is Christmas, there she sits under a worn thread bear red, white, and blue afghan; a present from the USO.
Her hands are bent with age. Look closely, you can see her gently holding the letter, “Mrs. Pomerton, I am sorry to inform you……………….” The letter is dated 25 December 1942.
As you read this, some American kid is walking the mountain passes of Kandahar. An eighteen year old Marine is standing post in Helmond province.
One of their mother’s is reading this year’s Christmas letter from her son.
A lonely father still waits for word about his son left as a POW in Vietnam. No word yet.
There is a little girl that on Christmas day this year that asks her mother, “Why mommy, why is daddy not coming home for Christmas”.
So yes it is Christmas, and I hope you do well.
Take a moment and say a special prayer for America’s Gold Star mothers and fathers.