It's hard on the children, too. Of course some of them may worry about their parent's physical safety, but there's a bigger issue than that--just the total absence of a parent.
Fatima attends school near Fort Campbell, KY, and her father, like so many others from Fort Campbell and the 101st Airborne (Air Assault), is deployed to the desert. Think about the added difficulties attendant to teaching at a school in which so many children are dealing with what Fatima is.
Fatima, who will graduate from Northwest High in Clarksville on Saturday, said her dad has missed her 16th birthday, her 18th birthday and her senior prom. "I think he's been to one of my softball games and I've been playing for three years," she said.
But she said the distance and separation are easier to handle because so many students in her school share the same problem.
"None of us are out of place because your dad's not here," Fatima said. "We all support each other."
There's a company in Florida, though, who's going to make dad's (and, in some cases, mom's) absence a little less painful for this year's seniors. Using equipment designed for sports teams, XOS Technologies will be putting on the internet streaming video of graduation ceremonies--so parents like Fatima's can watch their children walk across the stage. And XOS will be doing it at no charge.
"It gives me a wonderful fulfillment, knowing that although I'm here in Iraq, I will still have the 'almost there' experience of watching my daughter walk across the stage," (Fatima's father Michael) McElveen said in an e-mail.
This doesn't happen much, but at this moment, words fail me--in a good way.