Monday is Valentine’s Day, and it will be a day to think about – and celebrate – the ones we love.

Today, before we bask in the warmth of a loving family, good friends and shipmates, maybe we can take some time to think about those for whom February 14th is bitter sweet.

Thousands and thousands of people will be separated on Valentine’s Day, unable to embrace the ones to whom they are closest. If they are lucky they’ll get an email or a phone call. Some of them, the lucky ones, will get on Skype and be able to see their families’ faces, touching palms on the screen across thousands of miles of cyberspace. It won’t be enough, but it will do.

But there are others for whom the day brings tears and a bottomless, unfathomable sadness. To date 5886 men and women have died in OIF, OEF, or OPC. Their families are left to look at empty chairs and old photographs, remembering how special their loved ones had been. They will tell stories of days gone by, allowing a pained smile or two to cross their faces as they reminisce about the good times. To them, the day will be a reminder of lives stolen away too soon.

To those left behind, we can only offer our prayers and insignificant thanks for the priceless gift they gave us, if for only a moment in time.


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