[Editor’s Note: Reggie Trussell of Burlington, now 90, is a Vietnam-era Air Force veteran (serving 20 years and one month) who wrote this account as a tribute to the “silent soldiers” who wait on the home front during each deployment while uniformed soldiers are away.
A lifelong teacher, Trussell later served as the head of the ROTC program at Southern High School between 1971-1981.]
They walk among us in uniforms of ordinary clothing in ordinary places. They go to jobs they won’t get to keep, attend schools they won’t graduate from, dwell in houses they will vacate, and play with friends they will not remember.
GOODBYES are a part of what silent soldiers do while their loved ones serve on battlefields in far away places.
These silent soldiers serve back home on soccer fields, in carpool lines, and in laundry rooms. They serve meals at tables set for one less. They serve as room moms, dad coaches, and field trip chaperones.
Silent soldiers know the meaning of the word “SERVICE.”
Rather than hoisting weapons in defense of our country, silent soldiers hoist backpacks as they head to school to defend against ignorance, working to make their absent parent proud and not worry so much.
ABSENCE is a constant companion for the silent soldiers. And they wait, wait for orders that will come and orders that will change. They wait for phone calls, texts, emails and skyping maneuvers. For homecomings, leave time, and containers piled with treasured memories to finally reach their destination.
Because UNCERTAINTY is the only sure thing for the silent soldiers.
Older silent soldiers remember their little boys and girls who, as men and women, now place duty over their place at the Thanksgiving table. Parents praying for sons and daughters who put country before self.
TEARS flow freely down the cheeks of the silent soldiers, while their soldier faces peril in distant places. The silent soldiers face loneliness, tough decisions, long nights, and parent teacher conferences…alone.
They Facetime, face challenges, and face their biggest fear every single day. Then they get up to face another day.
BEING brave is part of every day for the silent soldier.
The youngest silent soldiers draw pictures, send care packages, blow kisses to the face on a screen. These little silent soldiers accept missed birthdays and holidays, missed plays and recitals, accept goodbyes and see-you-laters, being the new kid and having a lot of “old schools” because making ADJUSTMENTS becomes second nature in the lives of silent soldiers.
Silent soldiers are dedicated to seeing through two sets of eyes. One set their own, and the other for their hero. One person representing two hearts.
Because love is the reason the silent soldiers never give up.
So, on this day when we honor those who stepped up to loudly defend our country, we also honor the silent soldiers who quietly hold the hearts of those who serve.