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The Sacrifice

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By Thomas E. (Jene) Hedden


     Patriot Day is a day of national observance in honor of those who died and were injured in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Flags will be flown at half-staff, firefighters will remember their fallen brothers and prayers will be said for the victims and for our country.

     Yet even as we remember that awful day and honor those sacrificial heroes who ran into the burning towers, we find ourselves still embroiled in the battle against terrorism and our soldiers are still losing life and limb at the hands of those who would like to see America destroyed. 

     I was recently reminded of that reality when I observed the following:  

Louisville Standiford Field 
Gate A 14 
Friday 10:10 AM 
Flight to Coral Gables…last call

     I was sitting in the concourse playing solitaire on my I-pad as I waited for my flight.

     Across the concourse, I noticed a group of people come together and form a circle with their arms wrapped around each others’ shoulders in a group hug. Then they became quiet and still, and I suspected they were in prayer.

     When they broke apart, a man and woman remained, continuing to hold each and kissing long and hard. They continued to hold each other as the other three, a teenaged boy and two preteen girls withdrew as if to give them a moment of privacy.

     The children appeared to be near tears, but they were quiet…each perhaps caught up in their own thoughts. They looked away from their parents who remained in a tight embrace, still kissing, unable to let go.

     I tried not to stare, but there was something special about this couple.

     They both looked to be in their late thirties. She was dressed in a skirt and blouse and her hair looked especially styled for the clothes she wore. He was dressed in cut-offs, a red polo shirt and Nikes, his hair cut short and carrying a back-pack. Then it hit me. The back-pack was Army issue camouflage and new. This was a service man leaving for some foreign land to stand guard for freedom.

      The soldier’s  family had passed through security without tickets and come as far as they could with him before letting him…Dad, husband, lover…go off to serve somewhere. They were saying goodbye.

     By this time, all the passengers had loaded except for this one young man. He slowly walked toward the waiting ticket agent, paused, looked back at his young family all of whom were in tears and blew a final kiss.

     His bride’s eyes were fixed on him, perhaps to record that face and this moment in her memory for the next year or more. The soldier took another step toward the departure gate then suddenly turned again and ran to his sobbing wife and swept her into his arms, dropping his backpack to the floor. 

     After another long and desperate kiss, they clung to each other for another moment. Then he dropped his arms, picked up the backpack and ran to the gate as it was closing. He could not look back again.

     The family again closed ranks and held each other, crying, this time with one body missing. Then the two preteen girls departed for the nearby ladies’ room while Mom stood inches away from the teen boy who cried inconsolably with his head turned down and away from his mother’s tearful face until she put her arms around him and held him until his sisters returned.

     Finally, when they were all together again, they began the slow walk back to reality…home without Dad.  As surely as he was flying off in his act of duty and sacrifice for all of us, his family was embarking on their own sacrifice of carrying on without him.

     As we once again remember Sept. 11 and observe Patriot’s Day, let us not forget the sacrifices of not only the soldiers who serve all over the world in times of peace and war, but also the sacrifice and service of their families here at home.

     Let us pray for the soldiers and their families and never take their sacrifice for granted.  God bless the American home!

Want to help?  


For a list of resources and organizations whose goal is support of military families, follow the following  links:

Association of the United States Army