Column: Families of soldiers do double duty on the homefront

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 16, 2005

When I heard the news some of our troops from around the area will be coming home soon, I stopped and said a little thank you prayer.

The prayer was both for the safe return of our soldiers as well as for the families who have been fighting the battle back on the homefront.

I think we often forget what the families go through when a loved one goes off to fight for our country.

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Think about it: What would you do if your household was turned inside out for a year or more?

What if your husband left? Your wife left? Your heart is torn in nine different directions every

day. All the daily tasks that need to get done all fall on one person. Thoughts run rampant: I need to hug my son or daughter because he misses his dad or mom; I hope my husband or wife is safe; I need to cut the grass; get groceries; go to the school play; go to work; help with homework; pay the bills; play with the kids; feed the dog. Fear of the responsibility and fear of the conditions abroad abound: I’m scared, but I can’t let the kids see me scared. The phone rings &045; and your heart stops &045; and you fear the worst imaginable news.

It turns out to be nothing &045; Hello? Hello? No, I am not the head of the household; well am I for now, I guess, and please, for the last time, I am happy with my phone provider.

The phone during this time acts as both a saving grace as well as a haunting reminder to what could be happening &uot;over there.&uot;

&uot;Over there&uot; becomes part of your lingo, and everyone knows where you mean. It becomes one word, as in &uot;When Tom gets back from ‘overthere,’ we are going to go on a trip,&uot; or &uot;Nancy called me from ‘overthere’ and just talking to her made me feel better.&uot;

Replacing the word war with &uot;overthere&uot; seems to helps soothe the harshness of such a violent action, in those violent locations &045; Iraq or Afghanistan. &uot;Over there&uot; seems a more calming word which helps people cope with the tragedies of what is really going on.

Children are resilient, but let us not take their feelings for granted, either. Think about how you looked up to your parents and how playing catch or going fishing or camping with them was the bright spot of your weekends. Remember how just having them at your game gave you a safe feeling that made everything OK. These young children don’t get to have that safe feeling.

Don’t get me wrong, everyone is stepping in and grandmas and grandpas are a huge help, but kids know when something is not quite right. They miss their parents and I don’t blame them a bit, but they don’t always express their fears.

Words cannot express the admiration I feel for the families who are dealing with this on an everyday basis. I am humbled to know the strength of these families is mirrored by the strength of the soldiers fighting for our country. Whether you choose to support the war or not, you must support the soldier, and in turn, the family who supports them.

When it comes time for the parades and the welcome home get together, planned later for &uot;our&uot; soldiers, please remember what the children have been going through, what the loved ones and the parents of our soldiers have been through.

Last and certainly not least, let us not forget the soldiers and what they have been going through for the last few years.

After you hear the announcement about a homecoming parade, while you’re packing up your lawn chairs, getting out your red-white,-and-blue outfits, stop for a minute and remember the families who have been fighting their own battles as well here at home.

God bless you all on the home front and thank you for your personal sacrifice.

(Scott Schmeltzer is publisher of the Tribune. His column runs Monday.)