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January 17, 2013 | 12:00 a.m. CST
Every year, thousands of Americans join the armed forces to protect the United States and her interests. These men and women are siblings, sons, daughters and parents, and every deployment creates a familial fracture, a separation that can sometimes span continents.
Similar scenes play out in homes across the nation — anxious waiting, missed birthdays, little contact — but the pain and longing these families feel can is always different.
Two mid-Missouri families know what it means to sacrifice for one’s country in this week’s feature. Lt. Col. Brent Beckley left for Afghanistan in May 2011. Brent’s two sons, Bryce and Cade, deal with their father’s absence in their own ways. Five-year-old Cade scribbles imaginative pictures to include in the next letter to his dad, Bryce is more reserved, with a cool, glib distance, but both recognize the pride they feel for their father.
Major Sam Forester went to Afghanistan the same month as Brent. Hayden, Emma and Adeline Forester are familiar with the absence; this was their father’s third deployment.
For the soldiers, fatherhood became a few minutes through Skype and occasional letters. After a year apart, the Beckleys’ and Foresters’ return to normalcy was easy, because despite the distance neither was far from each other’s thoughts.
It’s important to recognize these moments. Each deployment means losing years or in the most tragic cases, entire lives with loved ones, neighbors and friends. There are few higher costs.