”My Daddy is on the ship….” The 4 year old girl said. “He is going to miss my sister’s birthday, my mommy’s birthday, and Christmas, but, he will be home for mine.”
She held a doll with her daddy’s picture printed on it. He was dressed in perfect Navy uniform with stripes and his name in place. It was really him!
I climbed down off the bleachers and approached the girl and her caregiver.
“Excuse me sweetheart.” I said. “I hear you are the daughter of a hero. I would love to meet him if you are ok with that.”
She proudly handed it to me and said “This is my dad!” As I held the doll, I looked into the face of a soldier, a father, a husband, a man who is fighting for my freedom in these very moments.
There was a lump in my throat as I fought back tears in attempts to keep it together in front of this sweet child.
“Because he can’t be here in real life, I just bring him with me like this.” She explained.
I got down on my knee and held the doll in my hand. My eyes filled with tears. I looked at this soldier and back up at his darling little girl.
“May I shake your hand?” I asked her. She stretched out her arm and I was privileged to hold her tiny hand in mine.
I looked her in the eye and said, “You are the daughter of hero! I am so glad to meet you and I am so very thankful for your dad.”
“Would it be ok if I pray for him?” I asked. “Yes” she replied…. “His wish is to be home all day with us and not on the ship.”
“Guess what?!?” I said. “My daddy is a soldier too. He went away when I was little too – all the way across the ocean. I remember missing him but, my mom would tell me how important his work was. I was and still am so proud of him.
He was away keeping us safe and protecting us. We wrote letters and we prayed for him to come home. We saved him a piece of birthday cake in the freezer too! That way he could have it when he came home.”
She looked at me with big brown eyes and smiled. “I can save my daddy some birthday cake too!!!” she exclaimed as she hugged the daddy doll. “Yes, sweet girl, yes you can!”
“You can also tie a yellow ribbon on a tree outside and keep it there until he comes home.” She smiled at the idea. “When you look at the yellow ribbon, or the flag, remember that your dad is doing a very important job and so are you by making him smile when he is far away. You have your doll as your reminder of him and when he comes home you will get to jump into his arms and give him a great big hug! It will be the best day ever!!!”
We shared in a prayer of safety for our troops and the tears flowed as I watched the young girl walk away with the “daddy doll” in the side pocket of her book bag.
As I sat and thought of the time I had with her I was guided back to our Father in Heaven.
I am the daughter of a hero as well – not only a hero of this country but the hero of our eternal life! He too, fights a spiritual war on our behalf. (Ephesians 6:12) He too will return and we will run and jump into His arms in celebration!
Do we proudly carry reminders of our Father? Do we try to do things to make him smile while he is away? Are we quick to tell the story of our “hero”? Do we remind others, that they too, are sons and daughters of the hero to the human race who defeated death for all of us - for all of eternity?
Once again, through the voice of the child, I could hear the voice of our Father in Heaven as He spoke to my heart ~ an unexpected gift on an unexpected day for sure.
So, as we take another step closer to Thanksgiving, let’s remember to give thanks and show gratitude for our freedoms and for those who preserve it.
Thank you for the example of sacrifice your son provided for us. Thank you for adopting us – for allowing us to become sons and daughters of a heavenly hero.
Please guide us as you continue to defeat our spiritual enemies. Please be with our soldiers and their families - protect them and bring them home safely.
Help us to be a country that proudly proclaims your name and your sacrifice. Let us carry reminders of you with us daily. Help us have the courage to introduce you to others and to share your work with those we meet along our path in life. We love you.