"Guys, chances are, someday you will go to war."
These were the sobering words my husband, Andy, spoke to our sons within days after that fateful September morning now known as 9-11. Our family was seated around the kitchen table where we so often laugh, argue and discuss both the mundane and memorable events of daily life.
But that night was different. The conversation was not about schoolwork, or weekend plans, or forcing our then-12-year-old to take at least one bite of the vegetable on his plate. When terrorists declared war on America by murdering so many innocent civilians, my children lost their innocence like so many other sons and daughters regarding issues of peace and security and evil. And like in so many other homes around the country, the talk turned to war.
I saw the strain in Andy's face, and imagined my 12- and 13-year-old boys as the men they would soon become. Andy quietly explained to a rapt audience of children – our children – how those who perpetuated this horrible evil had launched similar attacks on Americans before they were even born.
As far back as the summer of 1983, hundreds of unsuspecting U.S. Marines were blown to smithereens when their barracks were attacked in Beirut. My husband was in the Navy, onboard the USS Joseph Hewes, a frigate in the Mediterranean, and he recounted how he watched as the pile of black body bags grew ever larger every hour on the deck of the nearby Iwo Jima. Andy recounted the many other attacks on Americans by terrorists that have gone unanswered as our boys absorbed every awful word.
Our family was gathered around the table that evening after watching President George Bush declare his resolve to find the evil ones and hunt them down. The president talked of how America would pursue the terrorists, and rid the world of all of them – no matter how long it took. We believed both in the president's resolve and his prediction that the war would not soon be over.
My family, including both of our sons who are now ages 16 and 14, are ready to defend America and freedom at all costs. It is a sickening feeling for a mother to watch the days go by and know that the time is ever closer when her baby may have to go to war.
Mothers and fathers all across the country are grieving the deaths of their brave sons and daughters who continue the war against terrorism, now being fought largely in Iraq. But as in every war for freedom, the ultimate prize is worth fighting, and even dying for.