I just finished watching American Sniper for the first time. When it released last year I dearly wanted to see it but I simply couldn’t bring myself to…not with a son sitting over in the Middle East fighting for our freedom.
Shortly before my son deployed he told me about the movie, Lone Survivor staring Mark Wahlberg. He raved about it and wanted me to see it. When he left for his first tour I discovered my son had left a copy of it behind for me to watch. With great reluctance, I did. I cried through the entire film, to terrified to even contemplate where was son was closing his eyes at the end of the day.
Having married a Marine right before the onset of Desert Storm, I knew what I was getting into when my son signed his name on the dotted line. I will never forget that call when our son was still an infant informing me that he was being deployed and the long hours waiting by the phone just to hear his voice again. All I could do was hold our baby boy and try not to think about the possibility of him growing up never knowing how much his Daddy loved and cherished him, about being a widow at the age of twenty, and how I could find it in myself to live without him. I was so proud of my husband for serving our country, but hated the heartache it caused me. Thankfully, my fears were unfounded.
Even now, a few weeks after learning that my son, who just returned home in March, will be deploying in September for another tour in that god forsaken hell, I didn’t want to watch American Sniper. But I felt I needed to. And I am glad I did. It was a powerful, heart wrenching rendition of the hell that we never want to imagine our loved ones in. Bradley Cooper and Clint Eastwood take us on a raw journey into hell that, because it’s real, makes it all the more horrifying.
I am so very proud of my son and my family for their service to our country. As a military mom, yes I do still see my soldier as a three-year-old in his uniform and gear. My heart bleeds openly and furiously with love and fear for him, his CO’s, his fellow soldiers, and for the safety of them all. Every night I say a silent prayer that they may all return home safely to us. And I often close my eyes and hear my son’s voice greeting me when he would come barreling in through the garage door announcing “Momma, I’m home.” And feel his arms around me as my heart melts when he says, “I love you too, Momma.”
Words cannot express the love, pride, and admiration I feel towards all those who choose to serve and defend our great nation. Their honor and sacrifices deserve and demand the respect of every American. People who do not have loved ones in the military do not fully grasp the emotional turmoil that our soldiers and their loved ones endure to maintain the freedoms we enjoy every day.
So, please…the next time you see a soldier or a veteran, approach them, shake their hand, and thank them for all they have done to ensure our freedom and protection. They are the true HEROS in this world and should be told that every chance we get!