A Christmas Tribute to My Three Soldiers

December 12, 2022

I had a really good cry last week. I don’t cry very often. All that stuff about big boys and such. But I heard a song I hadn’t heard since my son got home from Iraq in 2019. It was his second tour. My other two soldiers each served tours in Iraq. The song I listened to that filled me with tears of thanks was “Letters from War” by Mark Shultz. Whenever I have a child in a war I listen to this song and it makes me cry.

The song sings about a young man going off to war and some of the highlights of the letters he and his mom send to one another. She gets word that her son has been captured by the enemy while saving the life of one of his buddies. It is the buddy who is telling her what happened. She keeps praying and writing letters every night, uncertain if her son can read a single one for two years. Then her son appears in front of the house. Here are the lyrics of this touching scene.

“Then two years later Autumn leaves, all around A car pulled in the driveway And she fell to the ground And out stepped a captain Where her boy used to stand He said, “Mom, I’m followin’ orders From all of your letters and I’ve come home again” He ran into hold her, dropped all his bags on the floor Holdin’ all of her letters from war Bring him home”

Her son came home. So did my three children. The song fills me with unexplainable thanks and pride in my three soldiers and they all three came home. When my oldest went off to war in 2004 he helped keep Tikrit, Iraq safe during the first free election in Iraq. It is remembered as the Purple Finger election (Look it up!). It was dangerous, and I added this prayer to my dinner prayer every night, “Dear Lord, protect the men and women of our military with a great shield of protection, and bring them home safe to their families when they finish their tours of duty.” It is a prayer of thanksgiving from a grateful father and American citizen who knows something of the cost of sending sons and a daughter to war.

I have an old tattered shirt in my t-shirt drawer that is too torn to wear anymore. It was a gift from my daughter when she finished basic training. It says, “My Daughter Wears Army Boots.” I was so proud to wear that shirt, especially when she went off to war in 2010. I try not to brag too much about my kids, but if anyone asked they’d hear as many stories as I could tell about how tough she was. And we kept saying our prayers at dinner for the men and women of the military.

My middle son has had two tours of duty in different parts of Asia and the Middle East. His second tour he left his beautiful wife and two sons behind to serve his country. That was a hard year, but my relationship with his wife and two sons is now very special to my wife and me. We got to spend many wonderful weekends with them. My son is a great dad, so I had big shoes to fill with my precious grandsons. In the midst of the challenge of sending a son off to war I was richly blessed to be there for those boys. And we kept saying our prayers at dinner for the men and women of the military.

Today, my three soldiers are home from war, probably for good. However, there are over 170,000 men and women stationed overseas right now, most of whom are separated from their families during the holidays. I remember how our faith in God enabled my wife and I to grow during each tour of duty. Knowing all that, I can guarantee you that at the Earley home we will always keep saying our prayers at dinner for all our men and women of the military. If this is not already your tradition I hope you will join me in these prayers. These men and women are one of our county’s greatest treasures.

Do you know any servicemen or servicewomen? Take a moment to reflect on what you can do to support them and their family to help make their Christmas special. Can you pray for these brave men and women? If you are a veteran or currently serving, then I thank you for your service to our country. I am grateful for what you do and the sacrifices you make to keep us free and spread freedom around the world. You are a living example of John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”