On Veterans Day, I take several moments throughout the day to give mental focus to what this day represents. Not only what it means to me personally – as a military spouse, as a proud American, as a mother of a future generation – but I take great reflection in the details of what it means to be a veteran. Of what it means for my husband to be a veteran.
On the grander scale of Veterans Day, there are celebrations, ceremonies and media attention spread across this great nation and around the world today. Friends and family on facebook taking the time to say “Thank you” to the military families they know. Many still confuse Veterans Day with Memorial Day, the former honoring all living veterans while the latter observes the ultimate sacrifice of those who died as a result of their service during conflict.
There are so many thoughts I have throughout these times of remembrance and honor. From the perspective of a military spouse, the wife of a career infantry grunt, I am humbled by our military men and women.
First, I thank God for bringing my husband home to me every time his boots hit the ground, whether worlds away on a battlefield or an hour away responding to a hurricane. I have only survived these missions on faith that God will provide and deliver my Love to me once again.
I cannot adequately express my gratitude for my husband’s service but I try to whenever possible, and my sincere hope is that I set the example for his children to do the same. That they may grow up knowing that Daddy devoted his entire life to our country – for better or for worse – he has answered every call to duty. I thank him for everything he has sacrificed, endured, witnessed and lost in his more than 26 years in the army. I am proud of his accomplishments, his rise through the ranks, and his commitment to his fellow soldiers.
How many of us can say that we literally offered up years of our lives at a time for our fellow citizens? How many of us have spent freezing cold, sleepless nights in a stone bunker covered in a week’s worth of dirt and mud, occasionally nodding off to the sounds of gunfire echoing through the mountains?
How many of us have carried a dead or dying coworker down a mountain in the rain? Only to then be unable to attend the funeral because you are still worlds away climbing back up that mountain in the darkness?
How many of us have witnessed the most horrifying war has to offer? How many of us take a moment to entertain what that even means? Because I can tell you, hearing the details secondhand is impactful enough. Imagine being the soldier who lived every second of war. Imagine the smells that surround the soldier – death, burning garbage, human waste, generator fumes. Imagine the sounds that seem to never stop – gunfire and mortars, helicopters, armored trucks, and the screaming. Imagine how a soldier’s body feels at the end of a week-long mission out in the mountains of Afghanistan. Broken. Cold. Mental exhaustion that most of us will never know.
I have only heard the details of war indirectly, but I lay shoulder to shoulder with the result. With honor and duty, therein also lies the darkness of man.
So thank that veteran. Tell him or her that you may never understand their sacrifices, but you are damn grateful they serve us all.
No matter our differences on war and politics, be sure to take the time to tell our veterans, “I stand shoulder to shoulder with you.”
Thank you, William. These words will never be enough, but know that my heart picks up the slack.