By Suzanne Sparrow Watson
There will be lots of news coverage this week about Memorial Day. Unfortunately, most of it will be about hot dog recipes, furniture sales and half-off underwear at the department store. Few people remember that before 1971, Memorial Day was always observed on May 30. Then Congress got in the act, declared it to be the “last Monday in May” and – voila! – the three-day weekend was born. Now many Americans view Memorial Day as the kick-off to summer versus a time to reflect on those who have served our country and lost their lives.
So this week we want to pay tribute not only to those who have died, but to those who serve without much recognition – military families. A couple of years ago we stumbled on a television program that puts the spotlight on these families and in the process, gave some perspective to our lives. It’s called Coming Home.
I’m sure you’ve seen bits on the news about returning service people who surprise their kids by showing up at school or a ball game. Who doesn’t get choked up watching them? Coming Home includes some of these reunions but it goes one step further: they work with one service person and his/her spouse to plan an elaborate homecoming to surprise their children. Often times whole cities get involved to throw a parade or professional sports teams lend a hand to the cause.
Matt Rogers hosts the show and does in-depth interviews with the spouse and children of the returning service person. And it is during this portion of the show that we are reminded that we really don’t have any problems.
The spouses of deployed service people have to be and do everything for their children: supervising homework, ferrying kids to music lessons, attending sporting events or dance recitals, and being the shoulder to cry on when something goes wrong . They must run the household singlehandedly, managing repairmen and maintenance, keeping everything running smoothly. The financial hardship alone is stressful for many of these families, and most of all, they’re just plain lonely. Add to all of that the constant worry for the safety of their loved one and it makes for a pretty difficult way of life.
It is truly a humbling experience to watch this program. So you can imagine my surprise when I learned that Coming Home went off the air. Replaced by a series about prostitution. Honest.
Stay tuned for Part Two where we’ll write about the brave children in military families and the fate of Coming Home. Same time, same channel, on Friday.