A Soldier’s Son
by Trey Howard
What does being a soldier’s child mean? It’s more than a phrase, mannerism, or easy task. It’s a lifestyle.
My father began his journey in the armed forces at age 18, fresh out of high school and ready for Desert Storm, almost 10 years before I was born. Although I had not been born yet during his first deployment, I still felt the effects of his service. Whether being taught discipline, ways of life, or simple life lessons, I was always aware of how his service related. For example, I was never spanked as a child, but do not be fooled into assuming that I grew up a snowflake; I had to do pushups and/or sit-ups until I was done misbehaving, stopped crying, or learned my lesson. The military discipline that my dad learned in the Naval Academy introduced new ways of disciplining his child.
When I was 11 years old, my dad decided that our country had had enough of terror and detriment like in the disaster of 9/11. So, he reenlisted but into the Army this time. Little did I know how much my life would change. I remember him constantly going for runs with weighted plates on his back for about a year. He always brought home more equipment to harvest in our basement until his deployment. Then on what I consider to be the worst day of my life, he stood dressed in ACUs while I wore my black and green football jersey. We took a picture together before he set out on his journey. I was supposed to smile, so I did my best. I still don’t know if he is aware that I absolutely did not go to school that day.
As months passed, I only remember speaking to him three times while he was deployed, but I did get letters, which I was thankful for. Something to know about having a deployed parent: every single day you wonder and wait for word from them, and if it doesn’t come, you can’t help but think the worst thoughts imaginable. Additionally, you begin to feel as if the world around you is silent, and you begin trembling over small things that continue to beat you down. Every task is torture because all you can do is miss the one you want to come home. Just thinking about the safety of your relative or friend may lift you up, especially knowing that they are alive.
About a year after my dad deployed, he surprised me at baseball camp, which was the best day of my life.
Over time I grew to know more about my dad’s service, and he continued to go on multiple deployments. Even though I was older, my thoughts and emotions never changed. Even after the several different injuries my dad sustained, I still know him to be the bravest man I have ever encountered, and he continues to sacrifice himself for others.
Being a soldier’s/veteran’s child is no gift, but instead is a circumstance that many must go through. Aside from the torture that comes with considering the type of danger soldiers are put through, being the child of someone who puts their life on the line for yours and many more is the proudest thing anyone could be a part of. Every homecoming, leave, or time that they are home is a time for family, especially children, to admire their loved ones while they can because you don’t know if you will see them again.
Although things could be worse, being a soldier’s/veteran’s child is something special. Over time, I have begun (and I hope others have too) to feel an immense amount of pride, passion, and appreciation for those who serve, whether they are busting down doors or sitting behind a desk. My father’s service has taught me more than I ever imagined. His service along with the service of all the men and women he has worked with will always make a difference in making our country the land of the free.
Being a soldier’s/veteran’s son has and will always be something I hold dear to my heart. My father’s service has shaped the person I have become over the course of many years. To those who have stood beside him, especially those whom we have lost, I will always tip my hat for the home of the free because of the brave.