I was barely born when Vietnam came to an end. I remember being a little girl, and watching news reports about the years following Vietnam but I never really understood why it was important and why we kept hearing about it until much later in life.
My daughters will watch the news tonight. I will make sure of it. I want them to remember the day the President said that the war in Iraq was coming to an end for American soldiers. I want them to remember the day the President said their daddy would be home for Christmas.
And I pray, more than anything, that he simply comes home. That not one more soldier dies in this war.
4479 service members have died in Iraq. Do not ever forget the families watching the news right now who will not have that homecoming because their son or daughter or husband or wife has fallen.
I didn’t expect my own reaction to the news that the war was ending. In 2005, my husband had first returned from Iraq a changed man. We were determined that one tour was enough, that we’d done our part and we were getting out of the military. But time passed and we stayed. We stayed, agreeing we would stay until it became too hard for our small family.
We stayed, through 4 combat tours. We stayed, through missed birthdays and anniversaries, through long nights waiting for phone calls, through tears while I sat in my CHU downrange, wanting nothing more than to go home and hold my babies.
We stayed, knowing that this war could drag on for decades or longer. We stayed.
Today, the President has announced the war is over, but it’s not over. We still have soldiers in Iraq. We still have troops patrolling every single day, providing the covering force for their brothers and sisters as they come home.
So today is cause for optimism. I won’t lie and tell you I didn’t cry. That the crushing sense of relief that is will finally, finally be over didn’t bring tears to my eyes that I couldn’t have stopped even if I’d wanted to. That I didn’t sit here and weep, remembering standing on the flight line in Mosul, saluting flag draped coffins.
I will never forget where I was when the war started with shock and awe. I was standing in the S3 office in Korea, watching the bombs falling on Baghdad.
I will never forget where I was when I heard the news that our troops were finally, finally coming home. Sitting in Barnes and Noble, the day after my change of command, listening to the President tell the American people “Today, the war in Iraq will be over.”
A day I never thought would come has finally arrived. Now, there is just one more day that needs to come. My husband, marching across Cooper field, coming home for the last time to his little girls.
Pray for our troopers who will close this war down. Pray that every single one of them still over there comes home safely, that not one more family must mourn the loss of a loved one.
Today, the war comes to an end, but it’s not over until our last soldier is home.