A mom’s thoughts on war

I’ve been loosely following the recent situation in Syria.  I’ve been listening to talks of military action.  I watched the President address the nation on Tuesday evening.  All the while I’ve realized my perspective on war has shifted a bit  since having children.  It has particularly shifted since having a son.

My dad in Vietnam years ago. His experiences there and since have shaped my view of the military a bit. Having children has shaped my view on war even more.

I have a history with the U.S. military sort of inadvertently.  I’ve never been enlisted nor has my husband or brother.  But, my father has.  My dad was drafted into the Vietnam War almost a decade before I was born.  He didn’t want to go to war.  It wasn’t something he was interested in, but the government chose otherwise for him.  For a year, he served our country in a war that started when he was a small child.  I am proud of him for that.  I have often wondered about the differences I would have seen in him had he not gone to a jungle around the world.  I’ll never know a dad who didn’t serve in Vietnam.  Just like all major life experiences, it shaped who he is.  I can tell you that I love him through and through and know that would be true whether he was drafted or not.

Having a dad who was drafted into an unpopular war has shaped the way my family views the military.  Let me be quite clear in telling you that we have the utmost respect and appreciation for the men and women who serve.  But at the same time, we also have a certain level of distrust to leadership who mismanaged a war in a jungle that lead to so many travesties both in Vietnam and at home.  When I was growing up, my older brother heard a bit more on this subject than I did.  He was a boy.  He excelled in math.  He was wanted by the military.  My parents were quite clear they’d rather him do anything else except join the military.  I understood that as much as I could at the time.  I understood that my parents had lived through something difficult to say the least.  I understood that my dad had horrific experiences he wanted to save his son from.

Now I understand that a little bit more.  I can’t write this and tell you that I know everything my parents went through.  I know only snippets and pieces that I’ve learned about since becoming an adult.  I know parts of their story and they have parts of their story they’ll never share with me.  But, now I understand just a tiny bit more about their feelings when I hold my babies.  I think of my precious children and how I want them to be safe.  I think of how grateful I am that men and women are fighting to keep them safe.  I think of how much I appreciate the work the leaders of my country are doing to ensure their freedom.  I cry when I think of their counterparts in other parts of the world who are far from safe.  My heart breaks to think of such small, precious lives being put in danger because of evil people in Syria and many other places.  My soul cries for justice.

At the same time, my protective mother comes out and demands that no war continue in 18 years when my son will be old enough to register for the draft.  I want no war in 14 years when my daughter will come of age as will her triplet boy cousins.  The same is true in 12 years when my niece is 18.  I look at their precious lives and faces and can’t imagine sending them around the world to face war.  I cling to my son all that much tighter.  He is my baby.  Right now he is literally my baby.  I can’t imagine I’ll feel any differently about him in 18 years.

I wish I had grand answers.  I wish I had magical solutions for peace so that no child of any age is placed in any sort of danger.  I wish that were so.  All I can do is pray.  All I can do is trust that God is in the midst of pain.  All I can do is trust that He remains in control and will administer justice as He sees fit.  All I can do is trust Him to take care of my precious babies even if they end up fighting in a war.

Life has changed for me as a mother.  Before when I worried of war, I worried what it meant for our country.  I worried for the men and women serving.  I knew that those men and women were sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers.  I knew they had loved ones worrying for them back home.  I didn’t truly know what it meant to love a child as a mother does.  Now I do.  And now my heart breaks even more for the families who continue to make sacrifices for my freedom and the freedom of the little ones I love so completely.

I don’t know what the future holds.  I don’t know if our country will make a military strike on Syria.  I do know that world peace isn’t possible in a world filled with free choice, fallible humans and evil.  I only continue to pray for guidance for our leaders, protection for our troops and protection for the many helpless people around the world.  And I thank God that none of it is too big for Him.

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