The Forgotten War

It was Christmas Day and I was waiting to talk to my brother. My heart was heavy not having him home for the holidays, yet so grateful because I could at least connect with him…

see his face

hear his voice

all through Face-Time, which was something that I could not do during his previous deployments.

My brother, CW5 William David Kilgore, is on his 5th deployment with the U.S. Army and has spent the last 7 months in Afghanistan with a few more to go. During this time, I have talked with him most every week, been able to send along some pick me up gifts from the “Burgh”, and even had him connected with my classroom so that my students could build a relationship with a true hero. Through all of this, I have been able to have a stronger connection with him during this deployment than ever before, yet on Christmas Day he said something that made my heart just drop and truly gave me pause.

Pittsburgh Natives: Robert Wilhelm on left and, my brother, Billy Kilgore on right.

We were in the middle of chatting when I had asked about his holiday dinner provided by the Army. We talked about his delicious meal and how he had looked forward to serving dessert as a privilege and honor for being an officer. We went on to talk about conversations with family back home and how the other deployed men and women were doing being away for the holiday. He kept his smile and then simply said…

this has been the “forgotten war” for soldiers.

I just stopped.

I felt the tears welling up in my eyes.

I was fighting to be strong.

I didn’t want to break.

I wanted to give him a smile to fill his heart. I knew at this point I just needed to listen. His words were not spoken out of pity for himself or others. It was clear to me that he was sharing something that I never truly acknowledged. My brother has always made it clear to me to not feel sorry or worry about him. He has ingrained in me that his service is his passion and that he chooses to go there so that the enemy cannot come here. All I could think of in that moment was… have we become so “accustomed to war” that we have forgotten that my brother, along with so many men and women, mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, not to mention friends, have sacrificed so much for each of us? How did war become our normal? How did having soldiers deployed become a part of our normal every day life for each of us? When did we stop counting down the days for the war to end? Have we forgotten?

As our conversation was coming to an end, my 16 year old son Trent entered the room and asked to talk with his Uncle Billy. This was not uncommon for Trent, and with the holiday it was even less surprising. He began to speak and my heart filled with an amount of love that made my insides feel like they were going to burst. He said something like this…

Uncle Billy, thank you for your service. Thank you for being over there so that we can be safe here. Thank you for giving up your Christmas so that I can be safe and comfortable here in my own home sitting warm by the fire. Thank you for all that you do and to all the men and women serving with you. I love you and Merry Christmas!

Oh my heart. We remember. We are grateful. We pray for you daily and will continue to do so. We are counting down the days until you arrive home safely, along with every single soldier serving.

And Billy, I will own my share for the forgotten. I will reach the masses and remind them how blessed we are to be here while all of you are there. I will recognize my own shortcomings and pave the way for others to hold themselves accountable in honoring the men and women serving. I will use my freedom as a vehicle towards a better tomorrow. I will count my many blessings. And… I will pause and pray for the families of those that have sacrificed the ultimate sacrifice for each of us.

Always remembering. Always grateful. NEVER forgotten.

Congratulations to Chief Warrant Officer 5 William D. Kilgore on his promotion.
My students busting their best dance move! True Joy! #ThatSmile

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