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A war, a dad, and a hero
Photograph provides food for thought on war, and the love between a father and son

 Sgt. Calvin Summerville embraces his son Jeffrey, 12, before getting on a charter bus that will take him to Fort Dix, N.J. From there, he will likely go to Iraq.
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Date published: 3/18/2007

By Richard Amrhine

T HE PHOTO ON Page 1 caught my eye and wouldn't let go. It was taken by our photographer Mike Morones, of an Army sergeant from the area preparing to ship out to Iraq. He was hugging his 12-year-old son, who had a tear welling in his eye.

My son is 12, too, I was thinking. I hug him that way nearly every day, and it either gives me a good feeling as I prepare for the day ahead, or reminds me why a tough day at the office was worth it.

I'm not hugging him with the thought that I might never see him again.

I agree with whoever said that each year with your kids is better than the last. I can safely say that has been the case for me so far. At 12, my son has reached the age that he is thinking about and forming opinions about things that truly matter in life.

He's asking questions to which my first reaction is: Whoa--I didn't see that one coming! I try to respond appropriately, whether it's with the best answer I can muster, or perhaps with another question aimed at helping him think it through a bit more for himself.

This is absolutely wonderful stuff, and increasingly it applies as well to my daughter, who is nearly two years younger.

So I am thinking, as I stare at this photograph, how incredibly difficult this moment must have been. Not just the goodbye, not just the anticipation of being separated for a long, long time, but also the unspoken reality that this could be the last moment that this dad and son physically share with one another.

One recent evening I mentioned the photo to my son, remarking on what a tough situation that must have been for the two of them. He nodded, though I wasn't sure whether my point had sunk in.

But as I turned off his light later that night, he told me about a friend in his class, a really good student, by the way, who told him that his dad is eager to get back to Iraq for his next tour. The friend said his dad has a really important job over there, searching for and disarming enemy mines.

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