Both sides of a hug are tough, filled with love
I would like to introduce you to a fellow veteran. Her Name is Sandra Valencia a retired Army staff sergeant who served during Operation Desert Storm, member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, American Legion and chapter president of the Southwest Chapter II Cortez, Blue Star Mothers of America. The Blue Star Mothers are a very important part of the veteran community and are here to assist those mothers and fathers who have children serving in our nation’s military. Her words are true to heart as it was more difficult to send our own son off to war than when we were deployed our selves.
Do you know someone serving in the military? Do you know someone who served in the past? Do you know someone who went to war? Do you know someone who was killed while serving? I can answer yes to all of these questions. Even the last one, unfortunately.
My husband, Bert and I went to a car show in Creede on Sept. 21. We also attended last year, and it is a car show that I hope to attend every year. The town fully participates by being a supporter and judge. There are no categories. The owners of the businesses choose their favorites and trophies are awarded. You meet very nice people at car shows, but in Creede I always manage to speak to someone who has lost their child to war.
Last year, I met Donna owner of the Creede Soap and Candle Company. This year I met Big Al DeHerrera. He lost his son last September in Afghanistan. He is a very jolly person, and more than happy to talk about his son as is Donna. I also met a woman at the Montrose Car Show in June who lost her son on his way to duty. Her loss is no less tragic.
My two children grew up surrounded by soldiers and know very well the feeling of saying goodbye when they sent me to war. Both of my grandmothers knew the feeling as well. I had uncles on both sides of my family go to war; one to World War II and two went to Vietnam.
My mom also can speak of watching her only child going to war. It is a feeling that is very mixed. The feelings range from fear of never seeing that face and looking into those eyes ever again to so much pride in your child that you want to tell those who ask (positively because they genuinely want to know) or question you (in a negative way because they want to tell you how wrong it is) the choice was not mine but my child’s and I stand behind that decision.
I know what it feels like to be on both sides of that hug. Both times I looked into my son’s eyes and prayed that I would see his beautiful face again soon. My prayers were answered everytime.
When I went to Desert Storm I asked him to be my strong little man and take care of his grandma and sister. When he went to war I asked him to take care of himself and those around him and do what he must to come home to us.
Both times I had the seesaw feelings I mentioned and couldn’t tell you which time was better or worse. They were the same, but different — if that makes sense. We both came home to open arms and lots of hugs. It doesn’t matter which side of the hug I was on it just mattered that we came home.
Why, you may be asking, am I writing about this? It doesn’t matter whether these troops are in a war zone or not The danger and risk during war and during peace may not be the same, but troops die each day in both cases.
I belong to the local chapter of Blue Star Moms. To be a member of this club you have had or have a child serving in the military. We are proud of our troops, and do all we can to help them and their families with any needs they may have.
We still have troops serving in a war zone and all around the world, and that is the reason I chose to write the column this month.
Remember those who serve in the military, and support them and their families in any way you can. The next time you see a veteran proudly wearing his ball cap that lets you know they are a veteran feel free to shake their hand. It’s a great feeling to be thanked.
If you know someone who has a relative serving give them a hug, and ask them about their loved one. Most of all listen to the story someone has to tell about the person whom they lost. If nothing else it will make them feel better.
Robert Valencia is a retired Army sergeant first class, a member of the American Legion, the Disabled American Veterans and the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He can be reached at 970-560-1891. Please tune into Veterans Forum at 8:30 a.m. the Last Friday of the month on KSJD 90.5-FM.