I recently came across these pictures of the Douglas County Veterans Memorial in Ava, Missouri. This particular memorial is for Veterans who have resided in Douglas County, MO. My Mom purchased these bricks to honor the members of our family who did just that, served in the military and resided in Ava, Missouri. Our family is full of many more Veterans than this but this is a beautiful display and tribute to a few of them. I am proud, to say the least, of coming from a family of Veterans. I am grateful for their service and sacrifice. And, it is also more than appropriate to honor the family members who played a major role in this service and sacrifice. This looks different for many military families. But for mine in particular the burden of sacrifice was carried mostly by my mother.
While raising my oldest brother Rick, my mother had my middle brother John, with my Dad in Vietnam. Before the communication technology improved to the place it is today, her communication with my Dad was through letter. Sending a letter meant that the other would receive it weeks later. So, news that was relevant when the letter was written was already history. Having a child is one of the most difficult things that a woman can endure, but having a child while your husband is in a war zone from which you are uncertain if he will return, must have been excruciating. I for one can’t imagine doing either. My brain can literally not wrap itself around the concept of having a child or dealing with my husband being in a war zone. She did it with grace and strength as she has done everything else in her life. My mother has always been a pillar of strength. When our worlds have come undone and felt shaky and uncertain our Mother always stood strong like a Redwood tree in the forest withstanding the storms of time. Her roots run deep and wide and she never falls or breaks, only bends and sways in the wind until the storms pass.
After my Dad returned from Vietnam she went on to support him and our family through his entire military career of 21 years. And then supported the military pursuits of both of my brothers. My brothers, career military men also, were always in a different part of the country or world. One protecting and securing our military bases and some of our military’s most valuable assets and the other in and out of almost every military conflict that occurred during his years of service. I always remember when those phone calls would come in when my brother would call and say, “well I’m heading out. I can’t tell you where I’m going yet, or when I’ll be back.” We would run up the hill and pick up the call at my grandparent’s home so that everyone could say goodbye. Our phone system was a party line back then. These phone calls came more often than any of us would have liked. Each time weighed with the uncertainty of whether they would return safely or not.
One story that we were told recently was that during one of these calls from my brother, my dad could be heard in the background asking if my brother was on the C-130 that he had just seen landing in a hostile zone on the national news. The reason he suspected this was that my brother was an aircraft mechanic and worked on these planes in particular. So when they went, he was always involved. In this particular instance he was manning the antimissile flare defense system that kept hostile planes from being able to lock their radar on this slow moving Angel of Death called the C130. It got this name, the Angel of Death, because of this antimissile flare feature, which makes it look like an angel when engaged. I know my Mom was among the happiest of us to be learning of this event 20 years later in the comfort of her living room.
We are a very fortunate family in that all of our family members made it home. But the sacrifice was still immense on the part of my mother. I’m not sure if she has ever been recognized for this. This one part of her history as a wife and mother that highlighted her remarkable power and resilience over and over. In my book, she is an American hero too. Showing her grace and benevolence yet again by purchasing these memorial veteran bricks to honor our family of Veterans.