On Christmas, we celebrate our families, friends and neighbors. It’s a time to be with those we hold most dear, and to take a break from the pressures we face every day. It’s a time for charity, as well, toward our fellow man.
But there are those who are deprived of family and friends on holidays, and for them the deprivation — and more — are a commonplace uncomplained-of: our soldiers. As we enjoy being surrounded by our families’ love on Christmas, we should each take a moment to remember those who defend us, and the sacrifices they make.
There is a young man, I am told, recovering from his wounds in Bethesda Naval Hospital. He is a Navy SEAL lieutenant. I do not know his name, and wouldn’t publish it in any event without his permission. He is entitled to whatever privacy he chooses to claim. SEALs – like their Marine Recon, Army Special Forces and other special operations brethren – tend to be private people. They talk among themselves but not to outsiders. This particular man has spoken, though, with such eloquence by posting a sign on the door to his hospital room.
The lieutenant, according to my source, suffered several wounds — the 7.62mm variety — in an ambush in Iraq. One bullet went sideways through the front of his face across his eye sockets just behind the cheek bones. He will require about 12 facial repair
operations. My source reports that the lieutenant is doing well, his force of will, his inner strengths undiminished. The proof of that begins with the sign on his door.
Attention to all who enter here. If you are coming into this room with sorrow or to feel sorry for my wounds, go elsewhere. The wounds I received I got doing a job I love, doing it for people I love, supporting the freedom of a country I deeply love. I am incredibly tough and will make a full recovery. What is full? That is the utmost physically my body has the ability to recover. Then I will push that about 20% further through sheer mental tenacity. This room you are about to enter is a room of fun, optimism, and intense rapid regrowth. If you are not prepared for that, go elsewhere.
Lieutenant, I don’t know who you are and won’t try to find you. But if you wish to find me, please do. My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. I would like to visit you in the hospital to share your fun and optimism, and to just say thanks.
As we all embrace our families on Christmas, we should remember the other families whose homes are emptier than ours. Those whose members are serving, recovering from wounds or have made the ultimate sacrifice won’t enjoy the day as will we. But there’s something we can do for them.
Most military families aren’t in need of charity. But there is one thing we all can and should do. If there’s a military family you know just call them and say, “thanks.” That’s what they need most, and will appreciate all through the coming year. Bless ‘em all.