Soldiers. She is ours and we are hers.


"Charles would have been retired by now and probably coaching Jordan on a flag football team. He would have been the one to take care of the back-to-school medical forms that I turned in almost a month late. I know he would have remembered Mother’s Day.

We will always feel the void that Charles left, but after so many years without him we are finally happy. We spend summer weekends on the Jersey Shore. We host about 25 relatives and friends at our annual Christmas dinner. I no longer feel guilty when I go out for an evening of grown-up conversation and companionship.

But there are still moments when I am nearly overcome with fear about how I will manage to keep our family thriving. The anxiety seems to grip me most on stormy nights, when the wind is howling and thunder cracks in the distance.

As I watch over my son sleeping sound and snug on those nights, I know that he is bathed, his belly is full and he is safe. And yet, it is when the storms seem to be bearing down on us that I have my doubts about how I will continue to manage the responsibilities of two parents.

I was having just such a moment a few weeks ago when Jordan and I were saying our bedtime prayers. I asked God to please help me to successfully raise this child.

Sensing my anxiety, Jordan hugged me after we prayed. “Don’t worry, Mom,” he said. “I’ll help you raise me.”"

Dana Canedy is a senior editor at The New York Times and the author of the memoir “A Journal for Jordan.”

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11 Responses to Soldiers. She is ours and we are hers.

  1. oofda says:

    Thanks, a good story to remember the terrible costs of war to the families left behind.

  2. Even with help of a talented and competent and loving wife had to focus full time on raising two sons to manhood and still IMO barely made it. Very Very tough for single parents to raise a child successfully IMO in a modern urban setting or elsewhere.
    And of course always wondering whether possible Presidents lie sleeping in the memorial cemeteries of the U.S.A. and the world?

  3. Degringolade says:

    “They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
    Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
    At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
    We will remember them.”

  4. turcopolier says:

    Binyon – “For the Fallen” This is inscribed in Washington Arch in the cadet barracks at VMI. pl

  5. oofda says:

    There are a couple other lines from the work:
    “They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
    They fell with their faces to the foe.”
    Have been present at Remembrance Day ceremonies at UK Embassies and Anglican Divine Services overseas. They always end with the words inscribed on Washington Arch. I once was at a combined ANZAC-Turkish service- very moving.

  6. walrus says:

    lest we forget.

  7. Dubhaltach says:

    And at this point I’ll stick my oar in for mentoring, fostering, and adoption.
    I’d best declare an interest. My mother died when I was very young (I don’t remember her) and I come from a family with several generations’ worth of adoptees on my father’s side. Most of my uncles and aunts were adopted, most of my siblings were adopted, half of my children are adopted. My dad was asked a few years back if he’d consider adopting again and my two “difficult” new siblings have just spent the afternoon playing with my children. You couldn’t ask for better younger brothers, my own kids love it when they visit us and love visiting them.
    So I have both an interest in and experience of families that fall outside the usual mother + father + kid(s) configuration.
    I haven’t read Dana Canedy’s book only the article linked to in the New York Times and from what I read Jordan’s upbringing is progressing well. But there are an awful lot of children out there who don’t have a mother like Dana Canedy with a good job and good organisational skills. There are an awful lot of children who don’t have a single father like my dad who coped with his grief when my mother died and got on with rearing us single-handed.
    All of this is a very long-winded way of asking you to consider taking a child under your wing. If you can’t adopt maybe you could foster, if you can’t foster, maybe you could mentor. There are innumerable mentoring programmes and you’d be amazed the enormous difference for good that you can make for very little effort and very little time.
    Just knowing that somebody thinks about them and is interested in them and wishes them well is all it takes to make a huge difference to children and teens living often very difficult lives and you’ll find yourself repaid over and over.
    Think about it, think about it strongly. Please.

  8. Haralambos says:

    This post and that of Richard Sales combined with the news up have stirred my thoughts to the month of May with Memorial Day (May 30th—my birthday), once celebrated on the day itself before it was turned into what the British refer to as a “bank holiday,” a term that better refers to what is now the new religion. (Birthday wishes to you, Col. Lang, whether belated or to come.) For me, May is not “the cruelest month” to use TS Eliot’s term but the most bittersweet. May is also the month in which my father died 24 years ago at the age of 70 on May 8th. His father died at 44, when my father was serving in the Pacific in the Fifth Army Air Force. I believe he was stationed at the time in New Guinea. Between six bouts of malaria and two broken legs suffered when he was in a jeep on his way to a mission and the airfield was attacked, and the jeep rolled over, he was sent to various hospitals or recovery centers, the longest stay in a hospital in Australia. He never managed to accrue enough missions to be sent stateside. His father’s death led to his brief return to the US for the funeral, and then he returned to the Pacific Theater. He had strong, very positive thoughts of thanks to the Australians that treated him and even stronger thoughts regarding what he took to be the policy that did not allow US service personnel to marry Asians while those serving in Europe could marry Europeans. He also abhorred racial discrimination for several reasons among them his excellent treatment by a “cook battalion,” as he referred to it, in their treatment of him in helping him reunite with his unit during General MacArthur’s island-hopping campaign.
    These episodes reinforced his childhood experiences as a young Francophone kid in Gloucester, MA. He was bullied by some local Italian-American children, and a young Italian-American friend told his father, the local butcher, who then went round the community and warned those that anyone bullying my father would have to answer to him.
    That said, he and his fellow teachers, many of whom like him managed to get a college education on the GI-Bill, still referred to their former enemy as “Japs.” Like many of them, he also welcomed the second attack on Japan with the newer bomb on Nagasaki, and, like many of them as well, he thought one should have been dropped on the USSR.
    My father was a man of many contradictions. As a chemistry teacher (mine and everyone’s in our small village school for 30+ years), he presented us with visual documentary evidence of the horrors of the bombing and the dangers of radioactivity as a result of seminars he had attended. He supplemented his meager income by working as a school bus driver in the local system before and after school, on Sundays as a watchman in a local factory (teachers were easily bondable), and in a local shoe store on Friday nights and Saturdays. The shoe store had a new innovation then that provided an X-ray of the shoppers’ and their children’s feet. He warned customers not to expose themselves or their children to the X-rays.
    The most horrible irony of my father’s life to me is that his father fled home at 15 to join the US Army. He was sent to the Mexican border to find and fight Poncho Villa before being sent as part of the American Expeditionary Force in France in what I learned was World War I. He was wounded and gassed; my maternal grandfather was a chemistry teacher and served in WWI developing gas. My most valued possession from my father are his silk maps from the Philippines and New Guinea. May 30th is a day to remember and reflect.
    My apologies for the self-indulgence.

  9. Doug Colwell says:

    Very moving. You have an unique family. My wife and I have twins, nearly twelve. Around two years ago she asked if we could adopt. I considered for one or two seconds and said OK. Turned out she wanted a dog, and now we have a wonderful German Shepard.
    I will see if she is interested.

  10. Lloyd D. Herod, Jr. says:

    Col. Lang. You may post this if it suits you.
    In memory of Memorial Day, and in remembrance of my father TSgt. Lloyd D. Herod, Sr, U.S. Army 1914-2001. Taps:
    Thank you.

  11. Dubhaltach says:

    In reply to Doug Colwell 27 May 2016 at 11:24 PM
    I hope she’s interested. I would say to you not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good. If, for example, you discover that at present adoption isn’t an option, then look at what else you might do. I know one chap who swears blind that he’d be on the streets or in prison by now if it weren’t for the fact that the local church ran a mentoring programme. He met somebody once a week in a cafe as a teenager then they’d go for a walk. That may not seem very much of a commitment to somebody like you who knows how much effort it is to bring up children, and it wasn’t much, a few hours once a week? But it meant the world to him to know that somebody thought about him as a human being and not as a case to be processed.

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