A knock on the door might seem a strange title in the days of doorbells and motion-activated door cameras. Still, there are times when a knock might be more appropriate, even more attention-getting, than a push of a button or a wave of a hand.
As this is being written, teams should have knocked on the doors of thirteen Blue Star families across the United States. The teams were in dress uniform and delivered a message no one wants to receive. I know that knock. I heard it in February 1969.
When I opened the door, two men in dress greens were standing there. They came to notify my mom that her youngest, my little brother, died in Vietnam. He and thirteen other young soldiers were killed on the same night from an attack on their airfield.
Thankfully, that was the only time I was on the family side of such a knock. Unfortunately, it is not the only time I was involved in such a notification. Luckily, I never had to tell a Blue Star family they were now a Gold Star family. Over the years, when I knocked on a door to deliver the message, the family often had no idea why I was there.
Families with relatives in combat or military situations know there is a risk their loved one will not make it home. Still, the news is hard to hear. A family sitting down for dinner or watching television is not prepared to have someone in uniform show up at their door. They are even less ready to hear that a loved one will never walk through that door again.
I don’t know which job would be worse, being part of the military notification detail or being a street cop obligated to deliver a message. I can promise you for the people opening the door; it is traumatic in either case. Knowing my brother might die in Vietnam did not help our mother one bit. She was devastated. I saw the same devastation and heartbreak in the eyes of those I had to notify over the years.
So, the point of this little bit of prose? The thirteen bodies being returned to the U. S. from Afghanistan are just the beginning. If the terrorists have their way, the body count will rise in Afghanistan and worldwide. Then, more families will be displaying a Gold Star banner, and others will simply mourn the loss of their loved ones.
I am not alone in worrying the body count will rise. Others feel the same way. Accordingly, I have a request. When you hear stories of soldiers and civilians killed in combat, by terrorists, or in horrible car crashes, by all means, pray for the families.
While you’re at it, pray for the person or persons knocking on the family’s door. The looks on the faces of those receiving the bad news takes a toll on the messenger. A toll felt for a long time.
Cemetery image courtesy of Pixabay
© oneoldcop – 2021