BAGHDAD – It’s Father’s Day, so at the end of the service this evening the Chaplain asked all the fathers to stand for a blessing. Of the 50 people there, I counted only four still in their seats. Granted, I serve in a headquarters, so we’re an older bunch–meaning that there are probably more Dads here than in most units. But the truth is that while wars past were fought by sons, many of today’s Soldiers are Dads.
This is a tough day for a lot of deployed Dads. But I think that it’s tougher still on the kids back home. We volunteered for this mission. The kids, however, did not. This is their day to burn toast and deliver it to Dad in bed even though Dad dislikes crumbs in bed. Today is when a child looks forward to giving Dad a tie even as Dad’s work attire now probably doesn’t require such formality. It’s the day when thousands of children present their Dads with identical mugs proudly proclaiming each one to be the “World’s Greatest”.
Dads looks forward to this day too. Not because they need more ties or coffee cups that don’t sit quite level, but because each one of those gifts comes with a hug. Not the kind of superficial hug delivered at the start of the school day or just before bedtime. A real hug. This is a day for hugs that say (and mean) “Thanks, Dad.” Thousands of kids won’t get to give that hug today.
We deployed Dads signed up for this. We’ll take what we can get: the thanks of comrades, a phone call from home, if we’re lucky—a webcam conversation with our families. But the kids, they have no one to thank with a hug today. So if you know one of the tens of thousands of kids today who have a deployed Dad on Father’s Day, hug them and thank them for loaning their Dad to their country.
And tell them to save some burnt toast for us when we get home.