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Deployment brings memories

November 5, 2010
By Dionna Harris

ESCANABA - As Veterans Day approaches on Nov. 11, the deployment of the 1430th Vertical Engineer Company opened a floodgate of memories I thought long buried.

Sometimes understanding comes easily, or it may take time, maybe years.

With the deployment of the 1430th Vertical Engineers on a 12-month tour of duty in Afghanistan, it is the children left behind who are often the forgotten victims in the present war on terror.

Article Photos

Dionna Harris

Children don't understand the complexities of the current ideologies, the only thing they know for certain, is that mom, dad, or in some cases both are not there to tuck them in at night, to dry their tears, to comfort them when they have a nightmare.

While these youngest of "soldiers" remain on the home front, staying with mom or dad, or in some cases, grandma and grandpa, adults cannot understand what children endure or feel, being wrapped up in their own concerns.

There are a handful of adults, myself being one, who can relate to the concerns, fears and emotions of being the child of a serviceman or woman.

I grew up during the Vietnam War. I am also the daughter of a veteran, who chose to serve his country in the U.S. Navy.

As a child, growing up I never really got to know what type of person my father was - I only saw him when he was home on shore leave, and being a child, I was busy doing what children do at that time in their lives.

However, when it came time for him to deploy or report for duty either at the Naval Station in San Diego (32nd Naval Station) or the Naval Station in Port Deposit, Md., I never understood why he had to leave, because he had in my childish mind, just gotten home.

Each time he departed, I was left with confusion and in some cases anger, but my anger was not directed at my dad, rather it was directed at the ships he served on. You see, at that time, all those naval ships meant to me, was dad was leaving once again and they were responsible.

I can only imagine it is much the same for children who have a parent or parents who serve in the other branches of the military, be it regular military duty or as National Guardsmen.

The confusion and sense of loss evident on the faces of the children who were present to say goodbye to their mom or dad was evident during the deployment ceremony held for the men and women of the 1430th Vertical Engineers.

It is a look which is well known among military families - and a difficult one for non-military families to fathom.

While non-military families may say they understand, the truth is they don't. They haven't any idea what it means to be a child with a parent or parents not only giving of themselves, but also asking the same dedication and devotion from their spouses and children.

Sometimes this yoke becomes unbearable for children to bear, but we do bear it and persevere becoming all the stronger for it. It is this perseverance which allows children of military personnel to not only understand but empathize with future generations of military children who face the deployment and possible loss of a parent.

The reason being the most obvious one of all - you see, we've already been there when we ourselves were young.

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Dionna Harris is a staff writer at the Daily Press

 
 

 

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