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Carol Platt Liebau - Columnist

Carol Platt Liebau is editorial director and a senior member of tOR and CRO editorial boards. She is an attorney, political analyst and commentator based in San Marino, CA, and has appeared on the Fox News Channel, MSNBC, CNN, Orange County News Channel, Cox Cable and a variety of radio programs throughout the United States. A graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School, Carol Platt Liebau also served as the first female managing editor of the Harvard Law Review. Her web log can be found at [go to Liebau index]

They Also Serve Who Stand and Wait
A Word of Gratitude to America’s Military Families

[Carol Platt Liebau] 5/30/05

[T]he women who "stand and wait" are many. But if work-baskets were gifted with powers of speech, they could tell stories more true and tender than any we read. For women often sew the tragedy or comedy of life into their work as they sit apparently safe and serene at home, yet are thinking deeply, living whole heart-histories, and praying fervent prayers while they embroider pretty trifles or do the weekly mending.

Louisa May Alcott
“An Old Fashioned Girl”

Sewing baskets are now, largely, a thing of the past, and the women who “stand and wait” have been joined by men. But otherwise, this poignant passage, written more than a century ago, resonates as America observes Memorial Day weekend.

Along with the barbecues and picnics that mark this beginning-of-summer holiday, we pause to remember with profound gratitude the many heroes who lie in graves – marked and unmarked – here in the United States and across the world. They died to defend their country, its people, and the principles of freedom, justice and mercy. For their sacrifice, there is no adequate thanks.

But it’s likewise important to remember the sacrifices of those closest to our soldiers – their spouses and families. Last week, in a waiting room at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, there were a mother and daughter waiting for x-rays. They had been in a car accident several years before, and the little girl had suffered a fractured spine. All now seemed well, but the x-ray was an important precaution.

It emerged that the husband/father in this family had served from January to April in Iraq, and would almost certainly return there at some point. On hearing of our gratitude for his courage and service – and for their sacrifice in letting him go to defend us all – the soldier’s wife broke down in tears. “It means so much to hear that,” she said. “It means so much to know that people understand that what he’s doing matters.”

Well, it does matter. And we are grateful. Perhaps this Memorial Day or shortly thereafter, we can find an opportunity to thank a soldier – to let him know that we know that what he’s doing matters.

And after we thank him for being willing to leave his family and go to a dangerous, distant place, let us also remember to thank the soldier’s family. For most of our soldiers there is a wife (in the case of female soldiers, a husband) who faces daily life without a partner and fellow parent with whom to share quotidian joys and cares; children, who do without the love, support and guidance of a parent; and parents who face every day knowing that the child they brought into the world could leave it – perhaps alone, and in a place far from home. Yet all of them willingly endure these stresses and deprivations, so that the soldier whom they love may protect the United States, the people of America, and our freedom and way of life.

Let us pray that for all these families, their sacrifice will be temporary – limited only to the time they have missed with their beloved soldier until the day of a happy homecoming.

Yes, they also serve who stand and wait. tOR

Columnist Carol Platt Liebau is a political analyst, commentator and theOneRepublic / editorial director based in San Marino, CA. Ms. Liebau also served as the first female managing editor of the Harvard Law Review. Her web log can be found at

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