Most of them are mothers, and they have their children with them on screen, sitting in their laps or holding their hands. Some of them were born after their fathers had left for Iraq. Some of them were born after their fathers had died.
Sometimes they let the kids talk about their soldier parent, but it's obvious that they don't know what to say. "We're proud of daddy, aren't we?" The children nod, then seem to duck away from the camera. It doesn't make sense to talk about this to people on television. Not at their age.
***I used to enjoy Memorial Day. Marching with the parade, seeing everyone's grandfathers and grandmothers, many in uniform, collected in one place and passing along their memories. They told us comedic stories about their shipmates and wingmen, shared their most frightening adventures, and solemnly remembered all their friends who died in the fight, or who had slipped away since then.
At the end of the parade route, after the 21 gun salute, all the veterans would salute the flag in the cemetery. That sight made me feel so proud and grateful, I would always cry.
***Back to the tributes on television, now an older woman is speaking. She is 64 years old; a grandmother looking after her daughter's two children while their mother went to serve. The children call their grandmother "Nana."
Nana's daughter died in Baghdad.
Nana will be 80 by the time the first of her two grandchildren children reaches 18.
I'm trying very hard to feel proud and grateful while I'm crying, but it won't come this time.
This time I'm just crying.