Today my family and I mark a sobering moment as our son, an Airman in the U.S. Air Force, deploys for his first tour of duty overseas in a combat zone.
In his honor, we are now displaying this on our front door:
The Blue Star represents an immediate family member serving in the Armed Forces during any period of war or hostilities.
The Service Flag has a long and distinguished history. The banner was designed in 1917 by United States Army Captain Robert L. Queisser of the Fifth Ohio Infantry, in honor of his two sons who were serving in World War I. It was quickly adopted by the public and by government officials. On September 24, 1917, an Ohio congressman read into the Congressional Record:
The mayor of Cleveland, the Chamber of Commerce and the Governor of Ohio have adopted this service flag. The world should know of those who give so much for liberty. The dearest thing in all the world to a father and mother – their children.
I’m grateful for my son’s service to our country. When he first talked with my wife and me about military service upon graduation from high school, we were affirming but also wanted him to get a college degree first. When he did, and revisited the question several years later, we encouraged him to move forward. We were proud parents at his graduation from Basic Training and remain so at every step of his career advancement. Realizing this is a necessary part of that advancement, we prayerfully send him on his way today.
I’m also humbled by the sacrifices his wife and daughters are making. As the daughter of an Air Force Colonel (retired), she is no stranger to these goodbyes and separations. As a wife and mother, though, it has to be different. She handles the responsibilities with tremendous patience and poise.
During the past few days, our conversations have been both light-hearted and serious. In the late night hours last night, I was reminded of my father’s graveside service and military traditions. As Americans, we have probably never disagreed more about things than we currently are – but we all need to remember why we have the opportunities we do – including disagreeing with one another.
I hope you will join me today – and everyday – in a prayer of safety for my son and the thousands of other members of the Armed Forces he is joining today as they stand in harm’s way for our freedoms.