Yesterday (Saturday 11/3) I co-officiated Holly and Gary's wedding with Dr. Darin Wood at Centaur Arabian Farms in Flint, Texas. Holly and Gary met in Afghanistan, and I started with that in my personal remarks.
So, I think every kid, at some point, asks his or her parents how they met. I don't remember when I asked this question, but I know I did. I remember the response. They met at a party. My next question was where, and I don't remember much beyond the answer, "New York." I probably went right back to playing with my toy trucks, because "New York" to a little kid living in Chicago just does not provoke any further conversation.
Now, Holly and Gary's future children will at some point ask them the very same question, and their answers will be quite different. "We met at the Marine Corps Birthday Ball," they will say. Then when the kids ask where, the conversation will really start to get interesting, because "Kabul" just sounds really funny to the young American ear. (Well, to the older one too...) No doubt, their children will ask what on earth BOTH of them were doing in that funny sounding place.
Now, this might lead to a discussion regarding a fascinating concept we Jews call Bashert in Yiddish. Like many words in this Germanic-Jewish language spoken for hundreds of years by Jews across Central and Western Europe, it is so rich that it almost resists translation. Bashert means "meant to be," and also "made in heaven." It can describe a situation, as in, "It was bashert, that we were both at the same Marine Corps Birthday Ball." It can mean one's soul mate, as in, "She met her bashert at the Marine Corps Birthday Ball." You see, the ancient rabbis believed that while one is still in uteri, a heavenly voice proclaims who a fetus will marry. I imagine Holly and Gary will say that their meeting at that place with a funny name was bashert, and that it was also where they each met their bashert.
Now, with many other couples, the discussion might end there. With Holly and Gary, however, I think this will lead to discussions very early on, earlier than in many families, about the love we have for our country, about how lucky we are to have our freedoms, and how sometimes we need to go to funny sounding places to defend those freedoms.
Knowing Holly and Gary, they will probably relate all of this in a very matter of fact way. They won't make a big deal out of the fact that were part of the minute percentage of Americans who served in the military. They won't make a big deal out of the fact that they gave up some of their prime years. They won't make a big deal out of the fact that they are, well, a big deal.
Their children will understand that many in their generation owe their very existence to the fact that young men and women heeded the call to go to far places with funny names to protect our way of life. I believe that that fact alone will imbue them, and should imbue us with a sense of thanks, dedication and purpose.