My Daughter in Combat Boots

"I am a baby boomer and lived through Vietnam. The war left an indelible scar on my heart" by Marcia K. Leaser

The air was cool, but a warm feeling of pride radiated from the family and friends that had gathered to watch their special soldiers march past in smartly tailored uniforms. It was finally graduation day for the seven hundred sons and daughters who had made it through the grueling nine weeks of boot camp at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.

My eyes brimmed with tears as the Military Band began playing “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” and the lump in my throat was as large as a fist. This rather surprised me. It had been a long time since I’d felt this much pride for America. The music faded as my thoughts returned to three months earlier, when my twenty-two year old daughter had informed me she was going to join the Army Reserves.

“How could she do this to me?” I thought privately. “She knows how I feel about war.”

I am a baby boomer and lived through Vietnam. The war left an indelible scar on my heart and I’d become bitter toward our government, almost to the point of being ashamed of America and for what she stood.

I told Tammy I would support her in her decision, and I meant it. Still, though, way down deep inside I prayed she would change her mind at the last minute. But she didn’t, and before I knew it… she was on her way to training.

The letters she wrote home were filled with her many accomplishments and I could feel that she was proud of the work she was doing. The picture she sent of herself in dress uniform made me cry. She stood so straight and looked so proud. I began to see that the feelings I had harbored for so long were wrong. No one likes war, but freedom is the best reason to be prepared.

Where would we be today if it weren’t for these young men and women who are willing to go through rigorous training and risk their very lives to keep our country free?

The familiar strains of “The Star Spangled Banner” snapped me back to the present. The ceremony was over. Tammy was a soldier.

I had always thanked God for the blessing of motherhood because my two daughters taught me many valuable lessons throughout the years. The lesson this time was that freedom is worth fighting for, and we must be prepared to defend it, whenever it is threatened.

I stood tall as the new soldiers marched off the field to the tune of “The Army Song.” Laughing silently to myself, I recalled the first letter I had received from Tam. She had signed it, “Your daughter in combat boots.” I smiled a secret smile. Yes, indeed, she was my daughter in combat boots… and I was so very proud.

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