The picture at the left has never been shared, not in the nearly eight years that I have been writing on the web. This was taken during another unpopular war, and I had decided to serve.
The reasons that a person serves, in time of war, are legion, and the incentives, especially in this one, are tempting. Some of the incentives that our government offers are: enlistment bonuses, re-enlistment bonuses, education, life insurance premiums for their family, if the worst should happen. Finally, the most powerful incentive for enlistment is the desire to serve one's country.
My desire, at the height of the Vietnam War, was simply to serve my country and to assist the soldiers and families traveling through San Francisco Airport. I believed that I was given a sacred trust to make their paths less crooked. I was faithful to my pledge, and I've never regretted my time served.
Looking at that picture, it is difficult not to notice just how young I was. At the time, at almost 21, I felt mature indeed. But the truth of the matter was that I was a babe in the woods, filled with the love of my country, and frankly, I would have taken a bullet to save the Flag that I served.
War is seldom the wisest course. Diplomacy, from a position of strength, must be exhausted first. Otherwise, the young men who crossed through my desk, would have spilled their blood for someone else's glory. Glory is never a reason to start a war.
After diplomacy, our leaders must use wisdom, and wisdom dictates that a war that is entered into rashly, will only come back and strike us. The Bible is certainly clear about this.
But, I was not making the decisions for government in 1967, and I'm not now. So, in case you don't understand why we served then, and why others have served, and still serve, now, I will tell you.
A father serves to protect his family from possible harm; a mother serves, so that she can keep her children safe. And there are many other reasons one serves. None serve for the money. Trust me. I was in the military, and I was a military wife. We didn't do it for the money.
For each soldier there are personal reasons to serve, but what is in their hearts, for the most part, is a connection to every soldier who ever fought for his or her country. And, now they are serving for them, for their family, for themselves and one another. The valiant. The protector. The bearer of the torch. All these reasons and more are why we served, and why they still serve.
So, when you see a Soldier, an Airman, a Seaman, a Marine, or anyone else who serves, with your heart in your throat, go up to them and simply say "thank-you," because he or she serves, so that your children don't have to.
War. I hate it. I hate those who sign the proclamation, as though no one will have to pay the price. Certainly not their children! I hate the ones who start keeping a tally on just how much they will make on their war products. I hate the "glory speeches," because they don't speak of the lives lost, and the maimed who will have to go on, while wondering why.
So, now you know. I served. I gave my best. I was a United States Navy WAVE, during the Vietnam War. And history has forgotten me, as so many of the sacrifices made today will be forgotten.
My ultimate belief is that God keeps short accounts. He exposes the lies, and he punishes those who have caused His "little ones to stumble." That is what I comfort myself with in the night. His comfort. His forgiveness. His understanding. His kindness and love.
Thank you, Father, that we have You to cling to. Thank You for keeping us in the shadow of your wings. Lord, we know that we can trust you to expose the lie, and make truth triumphant. These are the things for which I pray.