Vietnam and My Children (3)

I was committed to doing all I could to win the war, but my children suffered because of my commitment. During my Vietnam years (and sometimes after 1975 as well, though all that is still classified), I was away from my children more than I was with them. They all accepted that and have never complained.

But I felt the loss even if they didn’t mention it. I missed so many birthdays and holidays, like Christmas, New Years, and Thanksgiving. I was absent from their Halloween fun. I wasn’t there to take them to the beach during the summer and skating during the winter. The leaves grew brilliant in the fall and new in the spring without me there to point them out.

When I was home, I overdid taking care of them. I bathed them, fed them, put them to bed, played with them until they were laughed out. I woke them in the morning, got them breakfast, helped them dress, got them off to school.

It wasn’t enough. Nothing could make up for my long absences and the time they had to do without a father. It is one of the regrets of my life.

Knowing all that, would I do it all again? Yes. I still believe, even today, that my first duty is to my country. My family, like those of so many of soldiers and spies, were called upon to sacrifice. They did it for the good of the country. I love them all the more for that. And I pray that they forgive me.

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