Friday, November 11, 2016

Thoughts from a Veteran's Mom

We were never an especially military family. Oh, my dad and uncles served. Growing up, I heard about Uncle Jack’s tough experience in Korea (he was training at Quantico before being shipped over, and his best friends were sent on ahead. By the time he arrived, they had all been killed). As for Dad, he spent time in both the Army and the Navy, though the closest he got to action was peeling potatoes on a base in Florida. On Steve’s side, his six uncles (his mom’s brothers) all went off to fight in World War II (and miraculously, all returned safely). While his brother Phil was career Navy, Steve himself had a high draft number, and he didn’t go to Vietnam. 

USNA Induction Day swearing in ceremony with Uncle Phil

Raising our five children in a post-draft world, I honestly never thought any of them would go into the military—especially our free spirited Evan. But that’s exactly what happened. At 18 he was accepted to the Naval Academy, and decided to attend. That June he began the dreaded Plebe Summer. It was a tough few months, during which he was allowed only two very brief phone calls home. But he stuck it out, then and for the next four years, graduating as an officer in the U.S. Navy in 2008. There followed six years of service—“nuke” school in Charleston, SC, four years on the nuclear submarine the USS Greeneville out of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and a year at the Office of Naval Intelligence in Washington, DC. 

Proud of him as I was (and am), I never felt I really fit in with the other moms, many of whom had husbands, fathers, brothers, who were also USNA alums. My military knowledge came from TV, movies and books. As an actor, I kept thinking of Evan’s uniforms as “costumes.” Because he couldn’t divulge much of where he went and what he did, both on the Greeneville and later at ONI, I was left to imagine (and to worry, especially when the sub was underway for weeks at a time). 

Evan left the Navy two years ago. He got a master’s degree from Barcelona Graduate School of Economics, and has been home since August. He will soon leave again I know, but it has been wonderful to see him. 

I have always admired and respected those men and women in the military, and I ache for the moms whose kids are in harm’s way, or who have been hurt or killed. I feel lucky indeed that our son came through safely. I remember and honor these special people who sacrifice so much. I pray for a world at peace. 

So thank you, Evan, and your fellow veterans, for your service. May we better care for our vets as they return from conflict, so many of whom are physically or mentally injured. May we think about our veterans every day, not just November 11th. And may we each do our part to bring about an end to war, forever.

Evan and Sheridan in Annapolis

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