The “dark cloud of war” is disappearing. At least, that is what President Obama told the graduating class at the US Air Force Academy. These cadets are "the first class in nearly a decade to graduate into a world that has no Osama bin Laden, no war in Iraq and no questions about when the war in Afghanistan will end.”
On this Memorial Day, I, too, hope that the dark cloud of war is disappearing. For the past 11 years we military families lived under that same dark cloud. We married under it. Signed our mortgages under it. Planted our gardens and attended our classes and delivered our babies under it. We have peered up at that same dark cloud and wondered if it was getting darker.
And now it is “disappearing?” As if the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were summer thunderclouds built purpleblack on top of each other, only threatening a storm?
I don’t know about that. On one hand I look at the statistics in the most recent Blue Star Families 2012 Military Family Lifestyle Survey Report that show that the concerns military families had about the high optempo and the effect of deployment on their kids has dropped in half since 2010. As the constant demand of deployment drops away, we are less worried. The dark cloud of war does seem to be passing.
On the other hand, my daughter just showed me a note I had written to her in the 8th grade during the threat of anthrax attacks at schools. “If you are reading this,” I wrote in the note. “I was wrong.” The note tells her to keep track of her brother. It lists addresses and phone numbers for family. It promises that if there is any way I can get to her I will. That I will always, always love her.
She never needed that note. Anthrax attacks did not happen to us. My husband came home from all his deployments. PTS is not a member of our family.
These artifacts of a family in a time of war seem sweet now, maybe a little sad. The dark cloud of war is passing. Even as my husband prepares for his next deployment, everything seems like it is going to be OK. Which is always what happens between storms.