Top Photo Caption: A family member listens as Soldiers with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, and Alpha and Bravo Troops, 1st Squadron, 102nd Cavalry, New Jersey Army National Guard, sing the Army Song after the farewell ceremony at the armory in Westfield, N.J., Jan. 21, 2019. The three units are deploying to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in support of Operation Spartan Shield. (New Jersey National Guard photo by Mark C. Olsen)
The following is a work of fiction. The papa in this children’s story is not any particular one individual but all of the troops that Americans honor on Memorial Day, as the child is all of their children and grandchildren.
Papa is a solider. He went away to war. Every day Mama and I put an X on the calendar and count off the days until he comes home. It is so many! But each day there is one less day. Still, I miss him.
Papa is a solider. He fights brave and true. He fights for peace. He fights for me and for you.
We turned the page on the calendar today. One month down in Papa’s tour of duty. Still forty more. So many! But each month there is one less month. Still, I miss him.
Papa is a solider. He fights so very far away. It is hard to remember. Will he ever come home?
Mama got a letter today. I don’t know what it said. Mama stopped marking off the calendar with me. I don’t understand. I liked that. It helped me understand the big, long wait until Papa comes home.
What does this mean? It has been so very long. It seems like Papa is never coming home. Mama cries all the time. I think she is afraid Papa is never coming home, too.
Today, soldiers brought home a big, long box, with an American flag draped over it. Papa was a soldier. He fought brave and true. He died for peace. He died for me and for you.