There seems to be a little bit of an oxymoron when you say Happy Memorial Day. What’s so happy about it? I know it’s a huge day of camping and bbq-ing and spending some much needed time with our families, but do you ever just get fully smacked in the face with what Memorial Day really is? When I was a teenager our church had the amazing opportunity to have the moveable Vietnam Memorial Wall come and set up for a full week. Me, being the young teenager I was saw it as an opportunity to hang out with my friends and do some “volunteer work”. Mostly I wrapped hot dogs in foil and got into a bubble war with a couple other friends washing dishes with me. I did however take the opportunity to talk to some of the veterans and try to see life from their point of view. My family has been military for several generations. My great-grandfather, grandfather (both sides), one of my grandmothers, dad, sister and myself have all served in some branch of the military. Heck, my birthday and my great-grandfathers are over the 4th of July holiday. For this reason alone, I have always felt some pride and patriotism for our country. But seeing those veterans stand in front of that monument was a sight I will never forget. There were grown men broken down in tears over names that meant something to them. There were others seeking counseling for Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome who had swore they were no longer affected by it. There were others who had to leave before the 21 gun salute because the sound of fire still caused them to shudder where they stood. There were wives and children, and grandchildren waiting patiently while their loved one sought a final good-bye and hopefully found some closure in this honored memorial.
Sometimes I feel a little callused. My friends will show me stories that are touching about military wives or members of the military. My heart gets sad when I see some of the stories, and yes I had to learn to shut that part of me down at times. If I sit and think of being on a ship, or how my hubby was gone for nine months, or how my sister had to raise her baby alone for nine months, or the family my brother in law had to leave behind, or any of the millions of things my family has done I won’t make it. It’s a fact of life to me. It’s horrible to have family members gone, it’s miserable to spend my time wishing I could talk to my hubby, or we have ____ so many months left. So like many other military wives, I shut down. I turn out the emotions and deal with the day to day. So yes, I feel a little callused. But when the emotions break through, it’s hard to shut them back down.
There are things that will always break through. Watching an elder veteran struggle to stand and salute HIS flag, watching a family meet up for the first time in months/years, and seeing little kids in mini uniforms. Another thing that will always make me cry is the song “Just a Dream” with Carrie Underwood. It came out the year before I got married. When my hubby and I were planning our wedding, we were trying to balance the time with being out to sea for two months at a time, and my ship was scheduled to go out to see for 9 months, his ship leaving before I even got home. We were facing at least a year and a half apart and had to decide, do we get married before or after. Do we love each other enough to make it through a year and a half of barely being able to talk. The first time I heard Just a Dream, I was trying to decide to between wedding dresses. Sitting there listening to that song I broke down. I couldn’t tell you what tomorrow was going to be like. I couldn’t tell you if we were going to be safe overseas, or if I’d even get to see my new husband before the next time one of us was gone again. To know when you say good-bye that it may very well be the last time can be overwhelming sometimes. Thankfully I didn’t end up on my deployment, so it gave us a few more short months to talk, but even then we weren’t living in the same state. I was on my ship in Virginia, he was out in California. It makes me grateful for today. That he has only missed a couple months of our little blue eyes’ life. I’m grateful he isn’t scheduled to leave for our little girl’s birth. I’m happy about the three or four hints I’ve gotten on facebook for cookies tonight…. and I’m grateful we got one more holiday together.
Enjoy your families tonight. Enjoy the time you have and the bbq’s you can plan. Thank you all for your service and your support to those who have served.