Today’s post comes from my friend Janie Reinart, one of the most beautiful and talented women I’ve ever met. Her book, Love You More Than You Know: Mother’s Stories About Sending Their Sons and Daughters to War, shares stories by moms who have experienced the heartache, swelling pride, fear, and faith of sending their babies off to fight for our country. You can read more about the book at the end of her post, and find a link to enter a giveaway of the eBook version of this poignant work. I hope you’re blessed by this glimpse into a remarkable woman’s heart – a woman I am so very blessed to know.
My experience with taking care of children and spouses always seems to revolve around food. With my husband, five children, their spouses, and 10 grandchildren so far, someone’s always hungry!
It seems like not too long ago, my children were as young as Colleen’s are now. Here is a picture of my son, Joe as a three year old:
When he was little, I would bundle him up to face the world safe and snug. Looking into his bright eyes, I would say, “Make sure you wear your boots and jacket and hat!” I never imagined thinking, “Make sure you wear your boots and flak jacket and Kevlar helmet!”
Here is a picture of Sgt. Joe Reinart, at 23 years of age, in the Ohio National Guard, when he was active duty and deployed for 15 months during Operation Iraqi Freedom:
Guess what Joe always asked me to send in his care packages? Joe asked for food because anytime they left their barracks, the soldiers had to be in full body armor and gear. For lunch every day the soldiers had MREs (Meals Ready to Eat). Sometimes it was just easier to eat what you had in your room and not go out in the heat after working a 12-14 hour day.
So every week, I would shop for groceries in Ohio to send halfway around the world—always buying enough so that my soldier could share with those who didn’t receive any packages. Joe made so many chocolate chip muffins from a mix that just needed water and a toaster oven that he became know as the Muffin Man.
For Joe’s birthday I sent a “Party in a Box”, including streamers, party plates, napkins, cups, candles, candy, party favors (squirt guns) and a banner that read HAPPY BIRTHDAY. I researched on the Internet what kind of cake had the best chance of surviving the extreme heat (temperatures 100-130 degrees) for the two weeks to twenty-one days it might take the package to arrive. The answer was an un-iced angel food cake. To solve the problem of frosting, I added a jar of Nutella, the chocolate hazelnut spread, so that Joe could frost the cake when the package arrived at his barracks.
Sending care packages was a way for my soldier to be connected to home. We made it through Joe’s deployment and celebrated when he came home. We continue to have many meals together as a family. The celebration continues, as Joe was married in July 2012!
I will continue bringing you true stories of our heroes in uniform, sharing with you the bravery and sacrifices that our troops and their families make everyday for all of us. You are invited to share your story about your soldier at Love You More Than You Know as a guest blogger. Send stories to email@example.com
The Book: Love You More Than You Know
In these stories, 45 mothers of U.S. service men and women open their hearts and share what it feels like when your son or daughter leaves home to fight a war.
Some were stunned when they learned that their “baby” had enlisted. Others had long been familiar with military life. But all of these mothers knew their world had just changed the day their child called home and said, “Mom, I’m being deployed . . .”
They discovered the strange mix of pride and fear. The anxiety of not knowing exactly where in Iraq or Afghanistan your son is, whether your daughter is facing mortar fire or enduring heat and boredom. Elation at the arrival of the briefest postcard or email message. The daily dread, when returning home from work or a trip to the grocery store, of seeing a government car in the driveway and two soldiers at the door . . .
Anyone who reads their stories will admire their faith and courage–and better understand the sacrifices made by our U.S. service men and women and their families.
Click here to enter free giveaways of Love You More than You Know Mothers’ Stories About Sending Their Sons and Daughters to War eBooks in honor of our Veterans and their families.
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to charities benefiting wounded veterans:
ReMIND.org, a Bob Woodruff Foundation initiative for injured service members and their families.
The Semper Fi Fund will also receive donations.
As an author, teacher consultant, National Writing Project Fellow, storyteller, and poet, words are my tools. Janie seeks ways to give people a voice to tell their own stories through prose and poetry. She and her husband, Ed, are grateful for their five children and 10 grandchildren. Most weekends, you will find Janie praying and singing with the choir at Holy Angels Catholic Church.
Janie’s chapter, “Boots to Ground “ in Love You More Than You Know, won second place in the National Federation of Press Women’s 2010 Communications Contest in the category of a chapter/essay in a nonfiction book. Her chapter won first place in the Ohio Professional Writer’s Communications Contest.
Janie’s blog Love You More Than You Know is a finalist for the 2012 Milbloggies (6th Annual) Best U.S. Military Parent Blog Award.