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One West Point Mom’s Story of Life, Love. Deployment and Patriotism

By Pat Stansbury

I have never felt so alone in my life. Having recently gotten divorced after almost 30 years of marriage, it was surreal to stand there without my husband, as my first son graduated from West Point. There I stood  looking out on the Hudson River, full of pride, fear and a mix of other emotions I would come to terms with in time. He was about to fulfill his commitment to duty, honor and country, when an icy breeze seemed to brush across my shoulders.

As he took his oath, I remembered teaching this little boy, as he so diligently tried to learn the pledge of allegiance. I remembered teaching him to pray, and to honor God in all he thought, did and said. I remembered teaching him how the God of the universe formed him in the palm of His hand, in His own image and had a magnificent plan for his life. And that we must pray everyday to learn that mission and be prepared when we find it. We also prayed for the little girl, wherever she was, who God chose to be his wife.

Before I knew it, he was running across the lawn one day waving a letter over his head. He was commissioned to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point. The painfully difficult and lonely years at the academy were softened one night not long before graduation, by a call home, “Mom, I met a girl”. I knew that tone, I was cautiously delighted.

No matter how alone I felt that day, I was accompanied by my other 3 children, my sister, her husband, our adopted Gramma Rose and Maria. God’s plan unfolding while we watched his brother pin him, shake hands and embrace.

So here I was, on that bank of the Hudson River, facing the Mission, standing with The Girl. The girl who would take my son’s hand and wait with me for the next 5 years through every deployment and every return.

The first deployment was so hard, I thought I’d die as I felt his hand slip from mine in a final farewell before he left. I’ll never forget how he smiled back at me over his shoulder walking away from me. That hand that just slipped from mine, was the grown up “man hand” of the little boy whom I’d hold in my arms and protect him from harm, fear and sadness. The same hands I kissed when he fell down, or held when we walked, or high-fived when we celebrated. That same precious hand now embraces a weapon, and a bible. Those hands will serve him in combat and compassion.

November 7, 2008 he returned safely home. November 7, 2009 we are preparing for deployment once again. This time, Maria and I are joined by 3 month old Sophia whom God created to fill our arms as he empties our hearts once again.

My prayer for all military families is that you’ll stand with us in the following disciplines in honor of our soldiers, and our country:

  • Stay close as a family. And reach out to other military families in tangible ways
  • Stay close to God. Allow His Almighty Hand to guide your soldier and comfort you while you wait those endless hours, you are not alone.
  • Stay patriotic. We owe it to our veterans, who paid the price for the freedoms we are enjoying right now: freedom of speech, freedom from want, freedom from fear, freedom of religion, and freedom of choice. And we owe it to the next generation to preserve those freedoms by protecting the respect of our constitution.

God bless you, God bless your soldier, and God bless America.