This is a special week, unlike other weeks.
I kind of blew off the lack of acknowledgement, in the Romney acceptance speech, of those in life and death peril in a far away country that once shielded and protected the foremost terrorist in the world. I hold no resentment toward Mitt Romney, no sense of neglect for heroes. Those in harms way are not remembered by most Americans on a daily basis unless some reminder comes along.
Governor Romney was appealing to concerns of Americans he wants to convert to his cause, and there is simply little additional room in the lives of many, those many people desperate for work or simply for a turn around. There is, in the lives of those in the daily rush, little additional room for those fighting a nearly forgotten war.
There was, in the Democratic convention, an implied critique directed at the Romney campaign, in front-and-center thanks for those fighting for us. Sure, much of it was political, no matter how sincere it is. But I looked up everytime a Tammy Duckworth combat hero spoke. I watched her prosthetic legs in skillful exit from the stage, and I tried to imagine the struggle it must have taken to learn to walk again. My anger at her opponents for their no-big-deal dismissal of her sacrifice came to me for a moment. The eloquence devoted by the Vice President and then the President had special meaning for our family.
This is a special week, unlike other weeks. This week I inwardly participated in every tribute. When speakers talked about the care of veterans as an investment in national security, I found myself nodding. When even indirect inferences were made, I noticed. Michele Obama has taken veterans and their treatment as a personal mission. She represents every citizen who feels any appreciation, and fills in part of the gap for those too busy or oppressed to care.
There was a time that lasted more than a day when we surfed the channels in dread as reports came of Marines killed on a base whose name we knew too well. Two attacks had taken someone's adult children away. Names were not released.
Hope itself became a horror of sorts. Please Lord, let it be next family, not ours, to lose a loved one. And then came the gratitude, a gratitude coming as a wave washing over a hard rock of guilt. Our Marine was still among the living. Thank God, and may God forgive me for my gratitude. But thank God nonetheless.
Away from his mother, away from the forced reassurance that could not let down for a second, away from anxiety unshared, I shouted at the Lord my God a continuous and fearful prayer that this time of death and worry might end with safety. That I might have a chance to make an important personal request, that I might ask if my uncertain role as a faltering, fill-in parent might be replaced by a new role as a firm and trustworthy and admiring friend.
I'll be taking this afternoon off. I'll leave work early. I need to get to the airport.
Because this is a special week, unlike other weeks. Today, for the first time since departing that locale of struggle and combat, our Marine will be on liberty.
He will be coming home.
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