A Special Tribute to America’s Military Mothers, both Past and PresentWhile I really have little of significance to say about the background of this peculiarly American holiday, its arrival does provide me with the opportunity to post one of my all-time favorite Norman Rockwell illustrations. I confess that I have a special affection for this evocative image because it reminds me of my own experience when I came home, for the first time, from Vietnam on a 30-day leave. I can still remember, like it was yesterday, me still in uniform (having flown in earlier that evening) sitting at the kitchen table with my mother — long after the rest of the family had gone to bed — drinking cup after cup of coffee and talking endlessly about the trivial, everyday events that had colored the lives of my friends and family during the year that I had been deployed half-way around the world.
|Home for Thanksgiving, |
Nov 24 1945 by Norman Rockwell
Being young, it didn’t occur to me, at the time, that mine was actually my mother’s third war; that she had met and married my father — a Navy corpsman serving in the Pacific — during World War II, and that, with two small children to tend to, she had seen him recalled to active duty during the Korean War. Looking back, I can not remember a single instance in which she complained about the hardships brought about by my father’s service; nor, in my own case, can I recall a single word of recrimination from her when she learned that I would be going back to Southeast Asia at the end of my leave. Only many years later, after my mother had passed away, did I learn from my sister about the constant worry and, even more painful to me now, the dread with which my mother greeted every unexpected knock on the door during the whole of the time that I was overseas.
Nowadays, of course, only a small number of our fellow citizens actually serve in the armed forces and, for that reason, it is easy for most of us to put out of our minds the wives and mothers that those in uniform leave behind when they go into harm’s way. On this Mother's Day, however, I enjoin all of my readers to remember, along with their own mothers, those others who day-by-day wait stoically for their husbands and sons, and now daughters, to come home again. And while other Americans may seldom think of it that way, theirs, quite possibly, is the hardest wartime job of all.