He was faster, smarter, stronger, cuter, funnier, and more endearing than any other little boy in the history of the world, but maybe I was a little prejudiced since he was my only nephew. As he grew older, he idolized his father and often appeared at family outings dressed exactly like my brother. The two were inseparable, and, just like my brother, Luke became adventurous.
The charming and daring little boy grew into a handsome young man who despite the concerns of his family enlisted in the military, just as his father had enlisted in the 1970s, just as his grandfather had enlisted in the 1950s, just as his great-grandfather had enlisted in the 1940s. My father and my brother, served during a time of peace. Like his great-grandfather, however, Luke serves in a time of war.
Today Luke says good-bye to his beautiful wife as she boards an airplane to return to Georgia.
Today Luke boards a different plane that will eventually take him to Iraq.
Today my family begins our prayers for Luke’s safety.
In the past nine years, tens of thousands of American soldiers, airmen, marines, and sailors have said good-bye to their families and traveled to far away lands to serve their country just as their ancestors did many years before. We honor these brave men and women, but it’s impossible to understand fully the fear, anxiety, sadness, and apprehension unless one of those brave souls is someone you love.
Only a few days from now, before we can even adjust to Luke’s departure, Joe, my niece’s husband, will also say good-bye to his beautiful wife and six-month-old baby to serve a tour in Iraq.
It doesn’t seem quite fair that one family must say good-bye to two young men, but how many other families have endured similar sacrifices? We are just one more family in the long line of American families who have watched their loved ones march off to war. We are just one more family who will begin each morning and end each night with prayers for loved ones in harm’s way.
Please keep servicemen and women and their families in your thoughts and prayers and pray that peace comes soon.
Dear Lord, please protect and strengthen Luke and Laura.
Dear Lord, please protect and strengthen Joe, Danielle, and baby Sophie.