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By Vincent Mallardi
7th†grade, Thornburg†Middle School

††††††††††† Everybody has a turning point in their life or a moment that changes things for them. Mine came when I was only two-years-old, not even knowing at the time what was happening. It was September 11, 2001. †††††††

†††† Terrorists had attacked the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. The President declared War on Terrorism. I didnít even know what that meant. My life changed a lot though. My dad, who also served in Desert Shield and Desert Storm, was called for war. †††††††††††

Since then, he has been deployed many times. As a child effected by the war, I prayed every night that my dad would return safely. I always thought about my dad and if he was still alive. Seeing a parent leave for six to twelve months at a time is devastating. When other families are celebrating holidays together, going out to eat and attending school programs, I was putting ideas into a jar as to what my dad and I could do when he returned. At church Iíd say special requests for those in the war and their families behind. ††††††††††

† Each time he was deployed, I thought it would get easier, but it never did. When I didnít hear from my dad for long periods, my first thought was that he got killed or he was hurt.† I didnít talk a lot about it, but I drew pages and pages of soldiers. I wore camouflage almost daily in kindergarten, first, and second grade.† †††††††††††

I have been lucky, though. My dad came home each time, but many of his friends did not.† For other families, soldiers come home scarred for life. Sometimes they have physical injuries, those that the eye can see; legs lost, paralyzed, head injuries, and other health problems. Others return home with emotional problems, that people cannot see. They carry the destruction and death of war with them in their minds and hearts.† †††††††††††

Although people may have disagreed about America fighting in the war on terrorism, all should be respectful to the men and women protecting our country. They are willing to give up everything, including their lives. It is those patriotic Americans, and their families, that make many sacrifices for this great nation. God Bless America!

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