I saw him, sitting across the restaurant. Alone. He got up, walked to the drink station, and I saw his rank emblazoned on his camouflage–the same as Richard’s. My heart hurt for a moment. His walk was wearied, proud, determined.

I finished lunch and, on the way out, I stopped at his table. He looked up.

“Sir, thank you for your service. I really appreciate what you do.”

His tired face lit up. “Thank you, ma’am. I just got back from Afghanistan and…” he smiled bigger, “I’m on my way home to see my family.”

“My husband is deployed–we’re halfway through now.”

“Oh–Congratulations! Each day is a challenge, but you’ll make it.”

There was a sudden ease, a sense of understanding. We talked a few more minutes, and went our separate ways. United in the service, humbled by gratitude.

In this lifestyle, understanding is so important, because so many people cannot completely understand. It’s not their fault. Unless you walk this path, there’s so much that cannot be explained, cannot be fully comprehended. But, when you see the uniform, sense the family-like tie, there comes with it a sense of acceptance that cannot be put into words.

This tired, wearied soldier was heading home to see his family…and was eating alone. A military wife approached him, and thanked him for his service. And from that moment, both gained a sense of determination to finish, a commitment to see our missions through. His is very nearly done, because he’s not fully Home until the Soldier is in his family’s arms. Mine is on the second half, and I am finally seeing a very blurry distant light.

We both were wearied. Each day is a challenge. But we will make it. We will prevail. Because in this world of camo and combat boots, in this calendar of counting down and counting up, each Soldier, each military wife and child is a family. And through that sense of understanding, we will make it. We will prevail.

Please remember to thank our Soldiers for their sacrifice…

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