A simple three syllable word: Extension. Seems harmless enough, doesn't it. Until you are part of a National Guard Unit stationed in Iraq for 15 months, desperately anticipating your return home to family and friends in April, and you receive notification that your deployment has been extended. My nephew-in-law, Chuck has been in Iraq for 15 months. We were joyfully expecting his safe return home this April.....less than 65 days away. That is until he received word of an extension. Extension: more than 200 days of extended duty away from his bride, his family, his career (as a Special Education Teacher), and so much more. His sacrifice of service has been extended.
This calls to question so many things, the least of which should be what am I doing to aide his call of duty. While the first questions are honest ones, why can't he come home? Isn't 15 months long enough? How can this be so difficult? Not to mention the political questions that arise. But our Country is not run solely on Politics: we have a personal responsibility for the freedoms we enjoy. We have a personal stake in this War on Terrorism: our children and grandchildren will pay the price should our current efforts fail.
So for today and each further day of Chuck's extension, what can I do to join this great sacrificial effort? Have I prayed for our troops as they face the reality of what we have become numb to as simple television coverage? How can I help his wife during this lonely time of deployment? What about the children whose parent is stationed far-far-far-away from home? Do they know how thankful we are for their families' sacrifice? Or do they merely hear the politcal nonesense that is the noise of television and radio talk shows? Rather than a political issue, this extension, this War, is a personal issue.
Yes, within freedom of speech, there is room for political discourse and disagreement; still, whose rights are we slandering while we pontificate and politicize? While our troops are facing the front lines of this War, what happens to their right to our gratitude, our thankfulness, our prayerful attention for their well-being?
Lest you believe I have a political agenda within this post, I will redirect my focus. What are you doing as a practical action to support our troops? Let's list some very tangible ways we can keep the personal side of this extension in the forefront of the frontlines. At Christmas time we were inundated with ways to send gifts to troops/and/or their families at home. What do we do when it is simply a day...any day....of their extended service? I appreciate your comments; and I know my nephew-in-law appreciates your prayers. For those of you that have a son or daughter, a niece or nephew, any one that you love who is stationed in Iraq or abroad....we appreciate and are grateful for their willingness to serve our Country. They are very simply, our heroes. How can we get so wrapped up in the politicizing of their sacrifice and forget the very personal nature of their service? Let's extend our thinking and our doing: let's begin and end with what they are doing personally for all of us.