by Brig Gen David Warner, USAF (Ret.)
The little boy stares at the clock for the millionth time wishing for the school day to come to an end. His mind wanders again to thoughts of his Dad who is somewhere in Pakistan, serving at an Air Base he couldn’t pronounce, let alone spell.
Although his family recently celebrated Thanksgiving, his father’s absence left a void, robbing him of reliving favorite moments of the past with his Dad: tossing the football in the backyard; pulling on the wishbone; and snuggling together as they watched and slept through a Cowboy’s game. With Christmas just a few weeks away, he found it a struggle to get excited.
After an eternity the bell rings unleashing him into a sunny afternoon. Making a beeline to the playground, he imagines a familiar voice calling out his name. Ignoring it he stays on course for his favorite swing. The voice is louder and closer, and now unmistakable. But how could that be, how could his father be here?
Finally, a well kept secret is revealed as his father stands there with open arms next to his smiling mother as tears stream down her face. To the little boy, all the fears and concerns he’d had melt away as his Christmas gift has come early!
While this scene plays out numerous times across our nation, this particular scenario played out 44 years ago to the month, and the little boy was me.
Many of you have played this scene out more times than you should, and many more of you long for these dramatic, emotional events to come to fruition soon! During this season of giving and celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior, I am reminded of your sacrificial service to your nation and the gift of freedom you deliver selflessly to our nation and the world!
There aren’t enough words to adequately thank you, and not enough money to compensate you for the gift you provide each one of us…a blanket of freedom in which we can worship our Heavenly Father and the birth of His Son!
During this season of giving and celebration, we say a prayer of thanksgiving for you and your families and praise the Lord for men and women like you who have willingly answered the call to serve our nation and our Lord. As we give thanks to our Heavenly Father who loves us so much that He would sacrifice His one and only Son for us, we also give thanks to you for your sacrificial gift of service!
May the Lord put a shield of protection around you and your families. We pray that soon your homecoming comes amid shouts of jubilation and tears of joy!
David B. Warner
Brigadier General, USAF, Retired
This article originally appeared in COMMAND magazine, or an OCF Ministry Report.