Sometimes sacrifice comes in small packages

As a U.S. Navy submariner, my son wears the silver dolphins on his chest.
As a U.S. Navy submariner, my son wears the silver dolphins on his chest.

I’ve been thinking about duty and sacrifice.

My son proposed to Jennifer aboard the USS Constitution, anchored in Boston Harbor. After they got married, the Navy moved them to the opposite coast.
My son proposed to Jennifer aboard the USS Constitution, anchored in Boston Harbor. After they got married, the Navy moved them to the opposite coast.

We commemorate it — especially around Memorial Day — and rightfully so. We usually think of it in terms of the ultimate sacrifice made by a member of the military on some battlefield, or a firefighter who races into a burning building.

But sometimes sacrifice comes in smaller measure.

My son, Aaron, is a now a petty officer aboard a U.S. Navy submarine. I won’t give the name of the boat out of security concerns, but my son and his shipmates are currently deployed far from shore and hundreds of feet beneath the sea. He’s a sonar operator who listens for the sounds of ships, other submarines, and a variety of sea life including shrimp and whales.

I’m told the boat’s sonar system has amazing capabilities, but the one noise I’m sure my son would most like to hear are the soft sounds made by his young daughter.

My son was home for Zoe's birth, but had been deployed in the Pacific just a few hours before.
My son was home for Zoe’s birth, but had been deployed in the Pacific just a few hours before.

Aaron was amazingly lucky to be home for Zoe’s birth. On a previous deployment, he’d barely tied up at the dock before his wife, Jennifer, went into labor. Little Zoe was born just a few hours after her dad returned from the sea. We were so thankful that Aaron, still bleary from lack of sleep, got home in the nick of time.

He’s not so lucky this time. He’s out of touch, deep beneath the Pacific Ocean for several months as Zoe starts to crawl.

It’s sad, and it’s made me think about all the other fathers and mothers who are missing out.

There are the fathers who can’t be there for the birth of a child. There are the mothers in uniform who can’t be there for their son’s Little League game. And it’s not just the soldier, sailor or Marine, but also the wife, the husband or the child whose family member can’t be home for significant life events.

Theirs is not an ultimate sacrifice, but small sacrifices made a thousand times add up to some pretty big losses.

I guess it’s a small thing, but when you think about it, you realize that you’ll only ever have one firstborn, and she’ll only start crawling once.

I’m sorry you missed it, son, and to you, along with Jennifer and Zoe, I say thank you for your sacrifice.

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4 Comments

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  1. It is a sacrifice, and a pretty darn hard one. Well, you’ve got me tearing up again….great writing, straight from the heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am your neighbour – I live just north of you in Ontario. I would also like to thank your son Aaron for his sacrifice. Far beneath the surface of the ocean he sits, listening for sounds of ships and creatures, but I’m sure nothing stops his mind from wandering. I’m hoping that his imagination still takes him to lounging on the couch with Zoe and arms around Jennifer – in the kitchen perhaps. I cant imagine how hard it must be for all the young men and women deployed in the most unforeseen places. May God be with them.
    Thanks for sharing part of your heart with us – your words are great pictures!

    Liked by 1 person

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