Soon the soldiers, sailors and those connected to the Iraqi war will be coming home. The very thought of this can make me teary eyed.
I have great respect for our military and all the sacrifices they go through to fight for our country. I can just imagine the anticipation of those families who have someone in Iraq at the present time and what the very thought of their coming home must mean to them.
Having had brothers who were overseas, I fully understand the joy it brings to have your loved one back on this side of the world. I can remember being surprised by my two older brothers who would get a leave and find their way home by hitchhiking. My brother closest to me (only 13 months older than me), always seemed to pack a little surprise for me somewhere in his duffel bag.
I always clung to their every word about their experiences overseas. I still have the hematite necklace and earrings my middle brother, Raymond, sent me from Vietnam for my graduation. I still have the dolls, the framed miniature instruments from China and the teapot and pitcher he gave me. Everything he gave me is cherished to this day.
I do have to tell you what a surprise Raymond gave me when I was working at the old People’s Commercial Bank. I was pregnant with my oldest child, and our family had not seen my brother for nearly two years, so you can imagine the shock I felt when I looked up one day to see him standing at the window of the bookkeeping department. I will never forget the smile on his face for pulling the surprise off. He could always keep me in stitches, telling one story after another so that night was spent very happy and my hanging onto his every word.
Once my oldest brother, Robert, brought a friend home with him from the Army. Why this friend came to our house instead of going to his own home, I really never understood. His name was Comacho, and he was from Mexico. Comacho spent about three weeks with us before they had to return back to the army.
Comacho nearly froze to death being from Mexico. He had never seen snow and never felt such freezing weather. It was one of Kentucky’s worst winters. I remember learning the words, “comprende,” and “no comprende” from Comacho. Comacho understood playing the card game “pitch,” and seemed to love sitting around the coal stove at night eating popped corn with our family.
Later, when my oldest brother was sent to Germany, he sent my first born the most beautiful christening outfit. The handiwork was beautiful. I also have dishes from Germany that he brought back. But out of everything that was ever given to me, their presence back home was always the most cherished gift. I spent many nights worrying as my mother and father did, and praying for their safe return. When my brother wrote that he awakened with 12 inches of snow on his sleeping bag in Germany, all I could think of was him being frozen to death or developing frostbite.
I always dreamed of seeing the place where he actually was stationed in Schweinfurt, Germany, and was thrilled when I got that opportunity on my trip to Germany in 1998.
My younger brother also was in the military, serving in the National Guard. He has stayed active with the American Legion, and now assists with veteran’s funerals in Mount Sterling.
My brothers are very dear to me and I will never forget the joy of their returning home from the military.
Thank God they returned home safely and all in one piece. That is my wish for those who will soon be returning. We should keep the families of these soldiers in our hearts also and hope that the transition for both the family and soldier goes well.
May their next year be the best yet for all of them.