It’s in the midnight hours that mother’s of deployed soldiers do some of their best worrying and praying. I used to think it was due to the fact that the distractions of the day were calming and suddenly our minds and hands were left with nothing to do. That was a good theory when he first went to Iraq. For me personally, the anxiousness existed because I knew that as my day was ending his was beginning. It was a funny assumption on my behalf. I knew he pulled shifts all hours of the day and night. I got a call from him the day I first wrote on this topic. It was the first one in a long time, he sounded tired, but considering it was after 1am there I am surprised he was still awake. I’m a mom. I can’t help it.
I was wide awake and writing this because I was angry. I was angry at some hateful anti-military writing I came across on the Internet. I usually roll my eyes, stop reading and go on with my day. This caused a stirring in me that time. It’s different because of the magnitude of the inflammatory rhetoric it possessed.
The stir of raw emotion, ultimately, was a flash in the pan. The typed words I came across were baseless, senseless, tasteless, and gutless. They were typed out for one reason, and one reason alone — to attract attention and make some big splash. There is a huge difference when someone uses hyperbole as a tool to excite interest or drive home a point, but it’s another when someone uses a constant, heightened offensive tone to bring attention to himself.
Ultimately I found comfort in reminding myself that it is not men like that who shape our world. The men who shape our world do not do it by provocatively stomping on the grave of men better than themselves. Instead men who shape this world respect those who defend them. Not only is it true that … “A Nation which forgets its defenders will itself be forgotten,” but I would say the same is true for the individual who thinks that a tantrum will bring him any notoriety and that using the graves of the fallen will accomplish that end for him.
When small men talk, big emotions are incited right away. They die out fast and stay cold, however. They may cause a rise in us by inflicting a flesh wound on a dearly held belief or value, but it’s like a flash burn — it hurts quickly, but the burn and wound are gone with no visible marks left behind. It’s like being bumped into and knocked down by a stranger. In the very moment it happens, it’s relevant and it may hurt. However, just moments later we are back up, dusted off and moving forward – soon that memory may even totally leave us without someone else to prompt it to the front of the mind.
This is much different from the stirring we feel when big men talk.
When big men talk we often feel a stirring in our hearts and minds. It’s often something that resonates within us as familiar and something with which we already agree, but we are still convicted — maybe just convicted to give more, do more, love more, or work harder. Big men stir the emotions, but it’s a deeper stirring that grows with time. There is sometimes a wound that’s even created, but it’s a wound that is given as that of a faithful friend. It’s a relevant wound whose pain stays, but instead of causing a gaping and seeping wound, it heals well — maybe leaving a scar just big enough to remind us of the wound and to help us be grateful for not having it any longer.
When my husband and son took their oaths to serve this Country as soldiers they spoke with voices that were loud, clear, decided and bold. Those words, that sound, that demeanor is what has stayed with me over the past 13-months and more. When I heard my husband lead a platoon of young soldiers in saying the Soldier’s Creed he was resolved, dedicated, and he was void of any fickle double-mindedness. That’s the man I hear. Hurtful words and hatefulness come and go like the wind or the trash that is blown about by its gusts. Strong, resolute, truthful, dedicated and bold words — words with substance and conviction, are what stay the storms and the tempest.
When the next flash in the pan hits I am vowing to stop and listen. I am not going to listen deeply to the small man who is seeking attention, but rather I will listen to the big men who are set to protect and defend us. I will listen to those who are my bread and butter of freedom. See, when they speak it matters. When they talk it’s not for attention. When they weep it’s not for drama. When they die it’s not in vain.