Today we had the privilege of celebrating the return of a soldier from our church, who spent the last fifteen months deployed in Afghanistan. An active member of our Small Group Bible study, Jason was greatly missed by many in our church family, and by his wife and four children who remained here in Washington while he was overseas.
Frankly, we were all very worried for him, afraid for his physical safety. Last May we mourned with Emily at the memorial service for her fallen husband, also named Jason, and also part of our Small Group and Adult Bible Fellowship class at church. I wrote about his death and the death of my Grandmother in this post.
We are fortunate that one of the wives in our Small Group is well-organized and administratively gifted (she is, after all, a West Point grad). “When you come to the party,” she encouraged us, “bring with you letters or cards of appreciation, thanking Jason for his military service.” The kids picked out a card and signed it, and Kathy and I each composed a short note. I was very glad to have a chance to express my gratitude in writing, not only to Jason, but to the many who quite literally lay down their lives for our country.
As we celebrate your return from your overseas deployment, I want to take a few moments to tell you how much our family and church body appreciates your sacrifice and courage.
Your willingness to serve our country and the people of Afghanistan merits the highest praise and honor from those of us who were permitted, by your sacrifice, to stay home in relative safety. The work in which you were engaged, to bring peace and stability to that war-torn country, did not go unnoticed. Through your efforts to contain and pursue enemies of our country, families and communities like ours can enjoy a day-to-day lifestyle that is largely devoid of fear of terrorist attack.
As citizens, we are proud of our military forces, but we recognize that the work that you did as an ambassador of democracy did not come cheaply to you our your family. The physical discomforts you experienced and the extended separation from your family were high costs, which you paid in courage, honor and in obedience to your calling as an officer in our Army.
We rejoice with you in your safe return home, and in your re-uniting with your family and with our church. We continue to lift you up in our prayers as you adjust to being home.
Please know that I greatly admire your selfless courage and honorable conduct in serving our Nation, and that I am deeply sensitive to the debt that is owed to you and to the other soldiers who have served, by our civilian community.
This blog seems a rather public venue for what was intended as a private note of thanks. Still, as I reflected on the party this evening, I determined to publicly honor this man who smiled and so casually down-played the difficulties and dangers he faced.
Welcome home, Jason, friend and brother.