Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Purposefulness (Purpose in Life) (05/25/06)
TITLE: Of Dots and Dashes
By Shari Armstrong
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“Time for bed. Go tell Dad goodnight.”
My sister and I got off the couch, and opened the door to the radio shack. Dad held up one hand as he wrote with the other. When he was done writing, he moved his headphones back, “Good night, girls. Love you.”
“Love you, too. G’night, Dad.”
He gave us each a kiss and went back to the dots and dashes in his headphones.
We went upstairs and waited for Mom to read our story and say our prayers. “I wish he wasn’t on that stupid radio almost every night.”
”I know. But he’s the state training officer, so you know he needs to be there.
“Yeah, I know.” I rolled over and closed my eyes, trying not to cry.
The phone rang. “I’ll get it, Mom.” I lifted the receiver, “Hello?”
”Hello. Is your father there?”
”No, but I can take a message.” I stretched the cord to grab paper and pencil off the desk. “Ready.”
”Ok, my name is Sarah Smith and I wanted to get a message to my husband. He’s in Germany.”
She gave me his name, rank and where he was stationed. “Ok, what’s the message?”
”Our son, James Daniel, was born yesterday, and he’s healthy and can’t wait to see his daddy.”
“Got it. I’ll make sure he gets it tonight.”
”Thanks. We really appreciate it.”
”You’re welcome. Bye.” I hung up and put the paper on Dad’s notebook in the shack.
“Dad, Ann’s here.” My friend and I squeezed in behind Dad’s chair.
“Hi, Ann. We’ll be ready in a minute.” He keyed his microphone, “This is WA8WHP. We have someone here who would like to speak to her grandparents. Over.”
The voice on the other end replied with his call sign and said, “Here they are. Over.”
Dad handed the microphone to Ann, “Hi, Grandpa! How is it in Peru?”
They spoke of their mission trip. She told them all about school and their family. When Ann was done, she handed the microphone back to Dad. “Thanks.”
”No problem.” He keyed the mike again, “This is WA8WHP, out.” The man at the other end signed off as well. “I’m just glad you found out there was a ham living near where your grandparents are working.”
I smiled as we went back outside to play.
*Author’s note: The MARS program (Military Affiliate Radio System) is made up of amateur radio operators (aka “Hams”) who train in Morse code and voice communications on regularly scheduled nets. There are three groups within the MARS system: Army, Air Force, and Navy-Marine Corps. They provide communications during natural disasters and other emergency situations. They also provide a free message service for military personnel and their families around the world.
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