Today's guest is Deborah Gianoulis Heald. Deb and I are old friends. I worked for her years ago when she was the co-anchor at our local powerhouse TV station. We hadn't seen much of each other over the years but the war in Iraq has changed that. Her son is a Marine and just returned from his first deployment. My son will be home soon, God willing. I doubt that we could have ever imagined two decades ago that our little guys would now be doing some very, very heavy lifting overseas.
When I was a little girl, my mother used to make us butter and sugar sandwiches. I loved the sweet gritty sugar creamed with butter on fresh out of the bag wonder bread. It was a treat.
My mother was a child during World War II and as we ate our favorite snack she would tell us that families had so little then, every family had to sacrifice to support the war effort. You had to learn to live without the staples like butter and sugar, she explained, so there was enough for everyone to share. Each time you did without something you remembered the soldiers, who at the time included all five of my mother’s uncles. Strangely, this doing without experience, was a happy memory for my mother.
I read a statistic the other day that brought that taste of butter and sugar sandwiches to my memory and a dry, sour taste to my mouth. In this war, the war in Iraq, less than one percent of Americans are being asked to sacrifice. We are the families of the all volunteer military. Many, like our son, signed up after our nation was struck by terrorists on September 11, 2001. He told us he believed young men without families to support should be the first to defend our nation so children will not be left fatherless by war. He simply could not imagine growing up without his dad.
I remember after 911 how all Americans, how the whole world grieved with the families who lost their loved ones that horrible day. We all wanted desperately to do something to help, to somehow share their terrible loss. But as the weeks went by and the TV and cable networks returned to regular programming, the President asked us all to go shopping to support the economy.
Now, the sixth anniversary of 911 has passed, and we have entered the fifth year of war against a country that we now know had no role in attacking us then, or developing the weapons to attack us later, 99% of Americans have never been asked to share the burden of war. There has been no doing without experience, except for the few families who are missing a piece of their heart. And with so many Reservists and National Guard fighting this war, there are children waking up every day without their fathers.
In the midst of his training, while home on leave, my son and I were driving on A-1-A near our home when he said, “ I would like to pull up next to all the cars with the “support our troops” ribbon on the back and ask, “What are you willing to do to support us? What are you willing to sacrifice?”
On behalf of my son and all the others serving who believe what we have in this nation is worth fighting for and believe in living a committed life, I ask you to consider his question. If you knew who the military families were in your neighborhood, would you offer to cut the grass, or watch the children so mom or dad would have a break, or write a letter to a soldier or send a care package? Are you willing to pay for the war now with your taxes so our troops will be taken care of for the rest of their lives and our children and grandchildren will not be saddled with debt? Are you willing to do without something as long as America is at war? Are you willing to share the sacrifice?