The other day I had the good fortune to be accompanied by four of my grandchildren (all girls) on my morning walk of the dogs. One child and her mother live with me; her daughter walks every morning. The other three were here for a sleepover. They also have a younger sister who stayed with her mother since she is only a baby. Their mother, also my daughter, is visiting alone with the children; her husband, my son-in-law, has been called to war.
I live in a small town which has a cemetery close to my home, so I often walk there to enjoy its beauty and solitude. On the way the girls aged four through nine like to run ahead on the sidewalks, waiting at each intersection for me and the dogs to catch up and give my okay to cross the never busy road, but only after we look in all directions.
It was a wonderful summer morning, still cool with dew on the grass, and leftover orange in the sky from the sunrise. The girls and dogs were full of life and energy, for them, life is always a new adventure waiting to happen. For me, the adventure is neither new nor old, it's somewhere in the middle, but I have lived long enough to know to savor it, which usually inspires me to say a short prayer thanking God for our time on His earth.
Then I heard a sound, it was a voice, not coming from any particular child, nor directed at anyone, but more like a whisper of wind, as if set loose on the breeze to drift and float in the air like a butterfly and alight for anyone willing to listen "I miss my Dad."
I always support our country's wars once we commit our military. I will not disparage any purpose once men are called to duty. I understand their sacrifice and appreciate it deeply; the day I heard the "whisper" I understood just how deep that sacrifice can be.
Our lives continue in safety and prosperity owing to one reason; since our country's birth men and now women have left their homes to kill those who desire to kill us. And when they leave, their loved ones miss them, worry for them, and yearn for a safe return.
Children are closer to God and hold the innocence of youth. They bear the burden of separation with a strength we should admire. When a child puts his feelings into words they are often spoken with purity we can no longer summon, allowing us to understand the meaning with intense clarity.
On my recent walk I was touched with that clarity, a clarity that will ensure that in the future every call to war will be tempered with four, small but powerful, words I heard or felt floating on the breeze that beautiful summer morning "I miss my Dad."