On June 24th, 2004 my husband, Sgt. Richard Fowler of the Tennessee Army National Guard reported to his unit for deployment. His mission- assist in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He left to serve our country, and depended on me to serve our country by raising our children without their father. We did not know on June 24th whether he would return or not, and that was the scariest part of his deployment.
Two days later, on June 26th, we spent the first of two wedding anniversaries apart. It was the first anniversary in our fifteen years of marriage we were not together. I spent months in denial, thinking that they never would actually go to Iraq, that after the training they would come home. Denial was the only thing that gave me strength during the first few months. When denial gave way to reality, the strength of the Lord was what made our ordeal bearable. I was without my husband, and our five children were without their father.
Being brave in middle of the deployment was only a ruse, I was scared to the depths of my soul. My mind constantly aware of the time that was slipping away from me and my husband, the time the children was losing with their father. Time that we did not know we would ever get again. I remember hearing once that the wives of soldiers did their time with their husband. I was in the military myself, once upon a time, and this deployment was harder on me than my own time in the service.
It was hard not to become bitter, angry and frustrated at the people of Iraq. It was to ease their suffering that our family was seperated. It took a family member reminding me that I have more than these people, that I have the security that when I go to sleep at night of living in a free country, of having brave service members guaranteeing that freedom, and that if I was unwilling to aid in the freedom of others I would become the cause of their suffering. I realized that even if Richard did not come home, there was a wife, a child, or even an Iraqi soldier somewhere whose lives were enriched because my soldier went to Iraq, because my husband left me to take care of his children, and because my children were without their father for seventeen months.
We gladly, if reluctantly, give of ourselves to insure the strength of America and the freedom of others around the world. And to that end, our sacrifice will endure long beyond our lives. America has endured because of sacrifice, we were just her means of insuring that freedom in the 2000’s.