Another Veterans Day has come and gone. It was the seventh since I first watched my son go to war.
At our house, we had put up a new flag to honor those who have served our country in past wars and to pay tribute to those still serving today at home and overseas. The pain of war felt sharper on that day than it does on other days.On the evening news programs, images of President Obama placing flowers at the Tomb of the Unknowns and walking through Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery brought tears to my eyes. I wonder how many viewers felt the sadness.
For so many today, military service has no part in their lives. Veterans Day is just another vacation day, and the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan do not impact their families.
This cannot be said for the South Bay Blue Star Moms who chose to spend their day marching in the Veterans Day parade in San Jose. They have sons and daughters who are serving in the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. The lucky moms are thankful that their children are stationed outside of a war zone.
They stand by, and sometimes hold up, those other moms whose children are deployed on the other side of the world in harm’s way 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
I am so very thankful that my son returned home safe and sound after both of his tours to Iraq. I have two friends who are Gold Star moms. Their sons came home in flag-draped coffins. Hoping that their sons’ service to our country will not be forgotten, my friends host yearly memorial celebrations to honor their children.
I will never forget Ken or Travis. I think of them, and I remember the Marines killed in two CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter crashes in Iraq at the same time my son was there in 2003.
These memories leave an ache in my heart that never quite goes away. I can only imagine the pain that the Gold Star Moms feel.
As of Veterans Day in 2009, our country had lost 4,362 service men and women in Iraq and another 918 in Afghanistan. I grieve for the fallen and their families.
Each year, I hope for an end to the wars in the Middle East. I want all of the children of Blue Star Moms to come home. I do not want to go to any more memorial services.
But as long as the conflicts do persist, I offer my plea to those without a military connection.
In this time of Thanksgiving, please take time to reflect on the sacrifices being made daily by our soldiers, marines, sailors, airmen, Coast Guard members and especially their families.
Be thankful for our volunteer service men and women who are willing to put their lives on the line to protect the freedoms that belong to all of us.
Diane Ducey is a Mountain View resident. For nine years, her son was a CH-46 helicopter pilot in the Marine Corps. “My memories of hisÂ being in a war zone never go away,” she said.