PREPARING FOR ACTIVATION
I share these thoughts and experiences not because they are unusual, but because they have become so common in our post-9/11 world. Thousands and thousands of reservists like me have been called to serve our country in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. They have set aside their “civilian life” for months or even years to serve our nation.
How does one set aside their normal duties and day-to-day life? I’ve tried to begin with an inventory… what do I do? Who could fill this role? How can I prepare to make it easier when I depart? The obvious ones are also the hardest… husband and father. I try to remember all the things that I would have done in the months ahead… who will light the furnace on that first cold night? I record bedtime stories to be played back weeks hence. Will my wife remember to get the car inspected… to put on the snow tires? The thoughts are endless. Thank God for parents, family and friends who will help to fill this void.
My duties as teacher and coach come next. Teaching and coaching are more than a job. My concern for these young people is exceeded only by my love of my own kids. Finding the best possible people to fill these roles in my absence is essential to me… a mission that has begun in earnest since getting confirmation of my deployment in recent days. My hope has been to get the school year off to a good start. With week one under our belt, I look ahead now to week two and hope to establish an effective routine before I have to think about departing.
What role do we play in our community? What groups do we belong to? What are our responsibilities? Who can help fill these gaps in the months ahead. I’m torn between wanting to share the news so that I can make preparations more effectively and my desire to minimize the disruption which news of my departure may cause.
Sharing the news of ones pending deployment is an interesting phenomenon in itself. My wife has been a trooper (so far). My children manifested a surprising calmness mixed with youthful curiosity: “Where will you be? Will you carry a gun? Can we visit?” My oldest even ventured optimistically, “At least I’ll have interesting things to tell about during sharing time at school!” Moms worry. Dads are stoic. Everyone is supportive. God bless you all.
As I prepare to observe 9/11 tomorrow (later today actually at this hour), I magnify my experience by the hundreds of thousands who have gone before me and try to grasp the impact which the events of September 11th, OEF and OIF have had. For nearly four years, my family has prayed nightly for the safety and effectiveness of our troops overseas and for their families. Now my kids understand why we added that to our blessing each night. My praises to all those who have answered the call to serve without hesitation or complaint and to those back home who have selflessly shared their husbands, dads, Sunday school teachers and little league coaches.