As The Mother of a U. S. Army Soldier

First published Monday, August 8, 2011, republished in honor of Veteran’s Day. I am grateful to say that my son came home from Afghanistan, was honorably discharged from the Army at the end of his service, is now married and is pursuing a college degree. Thank you, Nathaniel, for your service.

Friday, as we were all going about our lives here in the Land of the Free, thirty of the Brave gave their lives in pursuit of our enemies in Afghanistan. They died when their CH-47 Chinook helicopter was shot out of the sky by a rocket-propelled grenade fired by insurgent forces. Evidently, this was the deadliest single incident for U.S. forces during the entire ten-year war.

My son, whose “job” with the Army is to maintain and repair CH-47 helicopters, will be deploying to Afghanistan in the near future.

So, while I’m not a Pentagon spokesperson or a military strategist by any stretch of the imagination, I believe that in this circumstance I have a valid opinion concerning the war in Afghanistan.

No peace-loving person raised in a free nation “likes” war. Armed conflict in which men; our husbands, brothers, sons, and fathers, die, is not something which we frivolously seek to join. Even one of the greatest military leaders in America, General Robert E. Lee, is reported to have said that, “…it is good that war is so terrible, else we would love it too much.” I feel, right to the very core of my being, the reality that my son will be joining the battle.

This is not a war which we sought out. Our military has gone to Afghanistan in order to pursue an enemy who came to us, attacking and killing American civilians on our own soil in a terrorist attack which will forever leave its mark on our national soul. This enemy does not wear identifiable uniforms and form up honorably on a field of battle to meet their enemy. The Taliban, al Qaeda, and the insurgents which sympathize with and fight alongside them, hide among their civilian population and fight from the shadows or disappear into caves hidden in the mountains. They are fierce aggressors and they continue to pledge themselves to our destruction; not by seeking out military conflict, but by planning attacks on our population at large in the middle of our cities where non-combatant men and women are going about their workdays, children are going to school, and life is being lived.

My son expressed his opinion of the war by explaining to me that, as he sees it, it’s our Military’s job to go over there in order to give the enemy someone to shoot at instead of allowing them to come over here and kill civilians on American soil.

World War II proved that simply allowing a bully to have his way and keeping oneself safely out of the conflict only allows the bully to stomp on as many weak kids as he can in pursuit of whatever twisted goal he has in view. It took committed nations with strong armies stepping into the fray to stand between Hitler and those nations and people he threatened to destroy. And, yes, it took the loss of many young and promising lives, resulting in the breaking of multitudes of hearts. We may hope for and desire a peaceful world, but as long as evil exists we will need strong men to stand up and protect the weak. Ten years is such a long, long time, and we are understandably weary of the war in Afghanistan. But as long as the enemy is there, recruiting and firing the hearts of men, (and boys) with a fervor for killing our fellow Americans, we need our fighting men to take the fight to them.

I did not raise my son, my firstborn son, with the plan of lightly throwing his life away for a political agenda or a pointless cause. I raised him to be a strong man of integrity who would see what needs to be done and would step in and do it, though it be difficult, misunderstood, or downright dangerous. Doing the right thing can’t always be accomplished from the safety and comfort of home.

Instead of pursuing his own interests and dreams at this point in his young and promising life, my son is going over there to stand between those who would indiscriminately kill us, and protect, with his own life if necessary, those he loves. It may be difficult, it is increasingly misunderstood, and we have once again been reminded that it is indeed, very, very dangerous.

I will therefore be on my knees praying for his strength, wisdom, discernment, and protection. After all, the God of the universe, the Almighty, Omnipotent One, knows what it is like to send His Son, His firstborn Son, into the land of the enemy in order that those too weak and poor to save themselves might not be destroyed by a fiercely aggressive enemy, but would be saved. Our Savior accomplished His mission into enemy territory; and though the final battle has not yet been fought, the war is certainly won. As I anticipate my son joining this earthly war, the promises of Scripture become all the more precious to me:

“It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be lifted up above the hills; and all the nations shall flow to it, and many peoples shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may teach us His ways and that we may walk in His paths.”  For out of Zion shall go the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.  He shall judge between the nations, and shall decide disputes for many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.  O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD.”  (Isaiah 2:2-5)

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