Thursday, November 11, 2010

Allie Pleiter on Veteran's Day

It’s Veteran’s Day.
Professionally, I’m writing a WWI novel and I would love to be able to speak to the Great War’s long gone veterans.  My research tells me it was a brutal war. I’ve had the opportunity to read letters from soldiers that made me cry.  Still, that’s mostly academic, and I feel totally unqualified to write today’s post.   I come from a completely military-less family.  Short of a couple of my husband’s co-workers and one writer friend, I don’t even know military people personally.
In theory, every American citizen should be qualified to respect the military, to honor those in service.  An experience a few years ago, however, showed me how little I really know of the sacrifices those families make in my name.
I was hired to speak at an army base near me just after my parenting book FACING EVERY MOM’S FEARS came out.  The idea was to translate the fear-fighting tactics I’d researched for this book so that they could be used to fight the fears that plague families with loved ones in combat.  I thought it was a wonderful invitation, and I was thrilled to put this valuable information to such good use.
I was unprepared for the emotional impact of the people I met.  Wives who couldn’t bring themselves to leave home because they might miss the phone call from their husbands--the phone call that could be their last conversation.  Mothers paralyzed by the darkness of knowing their sons are in harms way, but not knowing exactly where their sons are.  Teens aware but too young to handle the continual stress of a parent in combat.  Women afraid to discuss their bone-deep fears with their husbands because “the last thing he needs to do is worry more about me at home.”  It was an awe-filled, humbling experience for me.  I left knowing just how little I knew.  I was struck silent by the huge sacrifices made to which I had never given a moment’s thought.  People have not just lost loved ones to war--I saw the lives of the living devastated by the burden of service.
You may not be able to attend a service or ceremony today, but you can stop and say a prayer for our service men and women, for their families, for those grieving a loss or those struggling with survival.  I know I will.

8 comments:

  1. We owe so much to our veterans. May God be with them and the soldiers that are protecting our country now.

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  2. Allie,
    You need to send this somewhere. It needs to be read by a bigger audience (no, not chubby! but everyone needs to see this). Wow, you really touched me.

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  3. Yes, Allie, this was a powerful post. I'm always saddened by the fact that we pay military families so poorly and their sacrifices are so amazing and heavy.

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  4. Very touching and humbling post. My husband was in the army as a young man. Never saw combat. My cousin was in the firs wave of soliders to go into Iraq in 2003. He was eighteen. He survived and has finished his service to come home. He certainly grew up while there. It was a hard time, worrying about him while watching the news of the war everyday. I think we all held our breath every moment.

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  5. I am always humbled by veterans. I have a dear friend who fought in Vietnam, my dad in WWII, and my nephew in Iraq.

    Allie, that was touching.

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  6. Thank you for the post, Allie. My husband is a Vietnam veteran. He showed me pictures of where he was and the men who served with him. When I looked at those faces, I asked him how old the men were. He said 18, 19. They all looked 35-40. There was not a young face in the crowd.

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  7. Allie,
    Thanks for a powerful post. I have become a FB friend of a young man who is serving as a chaplain's assistant in Iraq. He wrote to me after reading one of my books. His tour will be done right before Christmas. I pray that he will return safely to his family and fiancee.

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  8. Thank you for your powerful post, Allie. Yes, we should remember all who served and who are still serving (and their families).

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