There's a round button that sits in my mom's jewelry box. It looks tarnished and worn against her pearl earrings, something you can't help but notice when shuffling through the box full of jewelry. My fingers always find their way to the button, picking it up and turning it slowly. I close my eyes and I remember.
Dressed in my oversized orange t-shirt with the words, "I'm Bored!" across the front, I lie in front of the TV with my head resting in the palm of my hands. I kicked my legs back and forth, excited to be staying up late with my parents and sister. I looked at the TV, eyes wide, grin across my face, and felt happily content with my mom's decision to let us stay up past our normal bedtime.
I was disappointed, however, when my mom turned the channel from one sitcom after another and finally settled on CNN. The screen was mostly black, with certain objects highlighted in green, and anxious voices were quickly relaying one event after another. Glows of green would flash across the screen and you could hear the thunderous booms in the background. We were at war. I was 8.
Immediately questions raced through my mind and I tried hard to understand my mother's answers as she tried best to explain what it was her daughter was watching. I couldn't comprehend the war, but I understood my mom's tears that silently fell as we watched the rest of it in silence.
My mom later wore a button, round with the words "America Supports You" across a yellow ribbon. It was pinned just above her heart each day, becoming a staple item for her work suits and weekend casual wear. In our home, we talked about the war. We talked about our troops. We talked about death.
My family didn't know anyone in the war. We had no ties to military families. We weren't waiting for letters. We were just an American family, watching the war in the safety of our home, mesmerized by the glows of green on our TV. And my mom was proud. Proud of our troops and thankful for their service.
The button still sits in her jewelry box. A small reminder of the years of sacrifices our service members have made.