When I first spoke to Pat Cordle about her son, Josh, it was around Christmas last year. I had written a column about remembering those who couldn’t be home for the holidays, and I think it really touched this mom of a soldier who was getting ready to leave for Iraq.
A couple of days after my story was in the Journal, I received a card full of thanks and praise from Pat. Though the Cordles live only a few miles down the road from me, I can’t say that I knew them very well. But all it took was reading her message on the inside of the card for the “Mom” in me to kick in, and I knew exactly where she was coming from.
Josh entered the Army in June of last year, a month after his graduation from West Bladen High School. His family didn’t even get a chance to see him and tell him good-bye before he was deployed to Iraq in January, after spending the holidays in Alaska where he had been stationed.
Pat gave me a call last week telling me that Josh was concerned about some of the other soldiers with whom he is stationed. Though he receives little packages of goodies from his family on a regular basis, many of the guys there don’t. She wanted to see if there was anything the Journal could do — and I’m happy to say there is. We’ve decided to “adopt” Josh’s unit, and we hope you’ll help.
I could hear the tears in her voice as she spoke of her son. She was so full of pride in him, she sounded a little choked up at times.
My first thought when I heard Josh’s story was that this young man is miles away from his family and friends, and his biggest concern is his fellow men at mail-call time. If that isn’t unselfish, I don’t know what is.
I can’t imagine being in his place, in the middle of nowhere during this terrifying time. I also can’t imagine what the Cordles must go through every day, not having any idea where their son is or what he is doing, and not knowing if he is safe.
And as a parent, the fear they must feel in their hearts when their son says, “I can’t tell you what I do on my job because it’s confidential,” must be unbearable. It must be impossible to put those fears to rest in these days when Iraq and Afghanistan are in the headlines almost daily.
Because of Josh, and other men and women like him, we can sleep soundly at night. We can be secure in the fact that they are there to fight for us and defend what some take for granted every day. They pack up and leave their lives as they know them behind to make sure we are safe.
It must be difficult to be in a foreign country, trying to help people who don’t appreciate that help. It must be even more difficult for some of those soldiers to know that when it comes time for everyone to get their mail, there will be none for them.
Then again, on the other hand, it must be torture to know that your loved one is over there fighting for our country, and you can’t afford to send care packages to show your love.
Thank God for people like Josh who want to do something about it. He wants everyone to have something special, and he is willing to share all that he has with as many as he can.
Last Friday afternoon, Josh was able to surprise his parents in what, I’m sure, was one of the happiest days of their lives.
As they were sitting at their home, completely unsuspecting that anything was out of the ordinary, a voice called out, “I’m hungry.” They both spun around to see Josh standing in the doorway. They didn’t even know he was going to be coming home.
I’m honored to have gotten the chance to know Josh in his short visit home. It is a blessing to know that such a caring, unselfish young man is one of the many who are defending our country. And in this time of hearing nothing but terror for members of the military in the past few years, he and others like him still have the courage to join the forces who live in the battlefields.
I’m thankful to know that there are parents like the Cordles, who teach their children Christian beliefs and values, and the need to oftentimes put others ahead of themselves.
Because of these brave men and women of our U.S. military, we can walk freely down the street enjoying the fresh air and sunshine, while they are in the middle of hell on earth 24-hours a day.
I am proud to be a part of the Bladen Journal’s decision to adopt this unit of soldiers in their time away from home.
For Josh and all of the members of his new-found family in Iraq, I am so glad that we will be able to show our appreciation for all that you do by pitching in to deliver a few smiles to the soldiers. My prayers are with you all for a safe return home.
Griffin is a staff writer for the Bladen Journal. She can be reached by calling 862-4163 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.