A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
- Proverbs 31:10-12
Memorial Day in the US was yesterday at the time of this posting. In reading one of Kathy’s posts (atimetoshare.me) over the weekend, I remembered something from my distant past. Or did I? I might have made it up.
Once upon a time, there were military families in a foreign land, we’ll call it West Germany, just for convenience.
Okay, since I started with “Once upon a time,” that means fiction, right? At least it gives me plausible deniability.
Either NATO or the US military would perform alerts, maybe 6-8 per year. They were not on a regular schedule, and some were not planned – based on what was happening in the world on that day. The military personnel had to be ready at a moment’s notice. Usually, the alerts started in the middle of the night. Usually, no weapons were drawn, but sometimes they were. Rarely did they issue ammunition, but that could happen. Sometimes, they sat outside the barracks in their trucks, ready to go – but really, ready to hear the all clear. But sometimes they left for a staging area, or even a second staging area.
The point is that the soldiers never knew if this was just another alert or if the “Russian Horde” (as the Communist bloc were called at the time) had attacked.
But what happened back in family housing? The wives wrung their hands until their husbands were allowed to call home and say that everything was okay and the all clear signal had been given.
But, once upon a time (I said it again.), the wives complained. Our husbands are prepared for war, but what about us? So, the military took one small community and had a practice drill. School buses were used to transport families to the nearest airfield. School buses that never broke down broke down that day. No one had ever counted how many wives and children there were, and transportation was lacking. Of course, this was reported to all other military communities.
During the next alert, the wives did not sit back and wring their hands. They gathered in the stairwells. Let’s just talk of one stairwell.
Penny, the major’s wife, said that she could not trust the military to evacuate her family. Sally, one of the captains’ wives, said that she could read a map better than her husband. Two of the lieutenant’s wives said that they were fluent in German. The civilian’s wife said that she had a van that could hold a lot of children and luggage.
Penny nodded, “So, it’s settled. From now on, when the alert happens, we’ll ensure that we have extra gasoline rations. The canned food that we are required to store will be placed in the van. We’ll carpool to Switzerland, if the next alert is more than an alert.”
Sally said, “If a war is declared, they may close the borders. That would eliminate the main crossing at Basil, but this border crossing here, about halfway between Basil and the Rhein Falls is very lax. They rarely look at your passport. Even the Rhein Falls may be a good location. Being a tourist area, they are used to people going back and forth.”
Kate, one of the lieutenants’ wives, added, “Do we really have a chance to make it?”
“What do you think they have us store canned food for? The higher ups know that in the confusion, we may have to wait for days or weeks to be evacuated. By then, the airfields may be destroyed. I would rather take my chances. Are we all in agreement?” Penny asked.
Eight hands were raised. Over the next few alerts, the wives gathered in Penny’s apartment. Sally sketched several map routes to reach the lesser used border crossings. The routes avoided the major highways that would probably be targets for the bombers. Their plans were set. They were ready.
The alerts, however, remained simple alerts to prove readiness. Yes, whenever the Russians moved tanks on the border, an unscheduled alert was immediately called, but those never amounted to anything.
Did this story really happen or is it fiction? World War III never happened, so does it matter? Penny’s plan never was carried out.
The point is that while there were a lot of Army officers in those days who had paperwork to prove that they were ‘gentlemen,’ there were a lot of wives who needed no paperwork to prove themselves wives of noble character, able and willing to protect each other and their children. The US military presence in Europe is greatly reduced now that the Cold War is over, but there are still spouses of service people (men and women) who are in foreign lands, away from home. There are also families back home while their spouses are in foreign lands in combat zones.
We remember those that did not come home from armed conflict on Memorial Day. Let us take time to remember and pray for those spouses and families who are struggling while the soldiers do their duty.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.