Every time I hear about a family traveling to Dover Air Force Base for the transfer of a loved one’s remains after dying in a theater of military operation, I feel an empathy unlike any other. I cannot imagine children growing up without their father or mother or the aggrieved spouses trying to answer their questions. I cannot fathom the sense of duty that compels someone to risk his or her life for our country at the expense of a loving family, though I understand that sense is very real.
In the same manner that we honor our veterans and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, I believe their parents, spouses and children—those whose lives are so profoundly affected by that loss—deserve formal recognition of their own sacrifice. They pay no small price for sharing their partners for the sake of our safety and security. They should have a declaration of our sympathy and our gratitude.
As you will read in Dawn Warden’s story—“For Father’s Day, Stories of Dads Who Who Serve”—balancing service and family is a complex exercise. Those who serve ask a great deal of their partners when they ask them to accept the risk to their families, and their partners show a degree of acceptance and respect I find unusually high. Men who joined in a time of relative peace for the United States have been succeeded by sons who do the same, then find themselves wrestling with conflicting feelings of pride and fear when their flesh-and-blood are deployed. While deployed, some miss occasions as momentous as the births of their children. Others return home to question their place in a family that has been forced to adjust to their absence. And for all those who return to warm hugs and tears of joy, some find their families fractured.
But as you’ll read, the fathers Dawn interviewed find their service rewarding—sometimes in such unexpected ways as meeting a future spouse in the military. Yet even in cases where both partners have an equally informed understanding of the risks, families still sometimes pay the price. As we salute the fathers (and mothers) who serve, it may be time to consider giving their families their own national day of recognition.
Elsewhere in this issue, writer Larry Nagengast examines the growth of Delaware Technical Community College on the occasion of its 50th anniversary. See “Looking Forward to Stay Current: Delaware Tech Celebrates Golden Anniversary.” June sees another big anniversary: the 75th Miss Delaware Pageant. Kim Hoey takes a look at how the event has grown from a mere beauty contest into a springboard for careers of all kinds in “At 75, Miss Delaware Pageant is More Than a Beauty Contest.” As thousands of 20-somethings and other music lovers prepare for the fifth Firefly Music Festival this month, Matt Amis asks how it follows its own act. See “Building a Brighter Firefly” (accompanied by an awesome picture of Sir Paul McCartney). And don’t miss our annual Beach Guide. As usual, you’ll find the latest on new restaurants, shops and services, as well as a great calendar of events. But if you love to play outside, you need to check out “An A-to-Z Guide to Outdoor Recreation.” From birding and bicycling to kayaking and kiteboarding, there’s an activity for everyone and a great place to do it. After all, there’s more to enjoying the beach than napping on it.