In 1965, when I was sixteen years old, my older brother Rick was sent to Vietnam. For about the next two weeks, when I came home from high school, I would find my mother laying across her bed crying. I learned that tears are memorials and a witness to love. Our family was deeply affected by this son and brother going off to war. Our family experienced a sense of loss, separation, dread, and fear, coupled with hope and anticipation for Rick's safe return. In 1968, I too left for Thailand in Southeast Asia. When I deployed, I knew my mom would be laying across the bed and crying for me as she went through the lonely process of coming to grips with another son so far away. Both my brother and I returned home safely.
Last week Major Bethany Barden (O Captain, my Captain!) returned safely back from another war zone after a year's deployment in Iraq. Her husband, Chance, and the children picked her up at the airport and what a surprise it was for the them as they had not seen their mom in over a year. The school celebrated her safe return with balloons, hugs, posters, banners, and hip, hip, hoorays. Welcome home, Bethany!
Through this process we became aware of another BCA parent who is in the military and who is now deployed to Afghanistan. Sergeant First Class Charles Fitzpatrick and his wife, Ashton, have their sweet daughter Abigail in our K5. Charles was deployed in February 2018 and will not be home again until the Spring of 2019. Here is another family separated due to service to us and to the country. Are there others that we know who are deployed in such a manner? Please let us know.
In talking with Ashton, she made us aware of a program that was created to show support to our troops, especially those still overseas. This is called the R.E.D. (Remember Everyone Deployed) Shirt Fridays event. The concept is to remind ourselves, our students and the community, that we are still fighting in a war overseas, and that the folks back home still support them and remember them.
Consequently, we would want to participate on the first Friday of each month by the wearing of red tee shirts or red shirts. Our participation will be a demonstration of our remembering those who have not yet come home, as well as a means of supporting and demonstrating solidarity with the families, the mothers and the wives who, like my mother, have laid across the bed in tears. Red Fridays say we are with you, we are with your family, we are remembering you, you are not forgotten, and we will support and care for your loved ones while you are gone.
Red Shirt Fridays will be observed on the first Friday of each month beginning Friday, October 5th. Demonstrate that you remember those men and women who play a vital role in protecting the freedoms that we enjoy so liberally.