I flew home from my first deployment to Iraq on July 4th, 2009. I’m not even going to attempt to explain the effect that year and that day had on my life story, because it would not be possible to put it into words. It was the first time I began to understand the phrases “I remember” and “we won’t forget” and others that until then had been cliches for me.
I have felt tears spring to my eyes many times over the last week as I’ve realized that I have fewer and fewer days left where I’ll get up and put on a uniform that involves awful socks, big boots and a crazy hat that no matter what I do never fits just right. There are only a few days left where I’ll pull my hair into a bun because I have to and only a few days that I’ll roll my eyes in frustration at one more ridiculous email about the newest “required training”. What I’m finding though, is that that whole thing about how you only remember the good stuff in retrospect in many cases of horrible/wonderful events in your life, is becoming sort of true for me. I can list out all the awful parts of being in the military, but I’m finding lately I just don’t want to.
I want to focus on all the GOOD parts- the part where I met my husband and so many friends that I still talk to on a daily basis- at my first experience with military life in San Antonio,TX.
The part where we were blessed with getting assigned in Hawaii (I mean seriously?) and could decide on any given day off whether we wanted to hike a mountain, surf the ocean or take a nap on one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
The part where I got to live in Washington, DC and explore all the amazing history that city has to offer, as well as have a constant stream of friends and family come in and out of that centrally-located place. That location and particular benefit turned out to be particularly needed as each of us in turn deployed and we had the luxury of never a moment without support from friends and family.
Or the part I’m living now- here, in this amazing part of the country that somehow has stolen away my heart. The part where I will finish up my Army career and my sweet husband will get to pursue some of the things he’s wanted to do but couldn’t always because my job at times has determined his. The part where we are SURROUNDED with SO MANY amazing, deep, pick-you-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-because-your-car-ran-out-of-gas-and-never-ask-a-question friends that I would join the Army all over again to have.
And so, in thinking of how to honor this life military life I’ve lived and will continue to live as a spouse in the days to come, I am reminded again, as always, it’s the people that make the military (and our lives for that matter).
A friend sent me a text this weekend that said “I just want my kids to know that not all Veterans have the face of elderly men” and I totally get what she meant. We are SO GRATEFUL for those men, and we will BE those men one day, but today’s Veterans wear all kinds of faces, and those faces are the ones that I want to celebrate today because they make this last 2 decades of my life TOTALLY WORTH EVERY MINUTE. To all my friends and fellow Veterans- I love you!