GARNER, N.C. — While their loved ones fight for Iraq's freedom, the families of deployed troops have a battle of their own -- trying to celebrate the holidays without a family member.
Two young children are doing that by turning a school ritual into a way of honoring their father.
For a lot of families, Christmas can be a hectic time with a lot of rushing around. For the Boyle family, it is a time of waiting and worry.
"Last night, Parker was laying in the bed with Daddy's picture just crying," Pam Boyle said of her 6-year-old son.
Maj. Scott Boyle has been deployed with the North Carolina National Guard in Iraq for 10 months.
His picture hangs on a small tree at Rand Road Elementary honoring the deployed.
"They know dad's on the firing line, dad's risking his life every minute for our own safety here at home. We want the kids to know we're thinking of them," said Linda Pearson of Rand Road Elementary.
The school has also given Parker, and his sister, Tanner, 7, a special task.
Every Monday and Wednesday morning, they are in charge of raising the American flag outside their school.
"They act like they're honoring their dad by doing it. They love doing it, so we have to get up early a couple mornings a week," Pam Boyle said.
The task is a special way to deal with feelings of sadness and fear.
"It's scary, because you don't know where he's at at times and you never know if he's hurt or not," Tanner said.
The Army has not told Boyle's family the specific date when he will be coming home. He hopes to be home before Tanner's birthday on Jan. 7. He missed her birthday last year due to his deployment.