Standing In Awe Of Our Military

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - May 26, 2005

It is Military Appreciation Month in Hawaii and I hope the positive messages being delivered to the men and women serving our country will continue all year long.

I have had the pleasure of speaking with military leaders on my radio program. I have nothing but respect and admiration for their sacrifices so we may live the lives as we choose to do. I am not one to become starstruck or even nervous when interviewing celebrities, but it is different when I speak to men and women in the military. I feel a certain awe in their presence. I suppose this unique feeling is fueled with an understanding of the demands on military men, women and their families. The inevitable moving every couple of years means leaving relationships, then starting others you will inevitably leave. The assimilation into different communities and, in some cases, countries and their cultures can be daunting, yet rewarding.

Military families must contend with the uprooting of their children and the challenges associated with having to explain to your fifth-grader why he has to leave all his friends again and go to another new school. (MidWeek columnist Jade Moon, whose father was in the Army, has written eloquently about this.) I think it is intrinsic for the vast majority of humans to want one place to call home. Nature compels us to establish a space that is ours. There is a sense of security, warmth and community in putting down roots. Military families may desire this stability, but it is not theirs to have.

When you see a military husband or wife in the supermarket shopping and dealing with their children, do you take a moment to wonder where their wife or husband may be? More than likely, they are on their own.

The most heart-wrenching image is found on deployment day. This is when Mommy or Daddy leave for up to a year to serve far away from home. The sight of fathers kissing their kids goodbye while mothers hold their children just a bit longer reflects the sacrifices. I have been away from my children for a total of 12 days in more than four years. Each one of those days was difficult. I can’t fathom being away from my family for months at a time. I admire those who make that sacrifice.

Defending our country, preserving our Constitution and securing our way of life is quite a job description. But that is exactly what our friends in the military do. Unlike most of us, our job performance does not include life-and-death situations. Men and women of the U.S. military understand their mission is to be accomplished even if it means losing their lives. Their orders will take them into the most Godforsaken places on this earth. Fear may course through their veins, but their training and commitment compels them to forge ahead into the lair of their enemy.

Most return home to the comfort of their friends and families. Some do not. The abjectly sad yet proud expressions by families at the loss of their son or daughter, husband or wife, niece, nephew or other loved one is indelible. Many wish you could tell them everything will be all right, but it never will be.

I know some of you reading this despise the military and want to see the military out of Hawaii. I understand there will never be a consensus of opinion on American politics and policies. But I think it is hypocritical for those who espouse peace as their mission to then be the first to hurl taunts, insults and violent language at those in uniform. It is the grace of God and the service of these families that keep our nation free. I hope detractors understand their right to criticize is protected by the very people they assail.

I, for one, want to thank each and every man, woman and family who has served, is serving or will serve this country. You are truly needed, and truly appreciated.

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