Monday, May 30, 2011

I Remember

As I was driving home from an errand on Friday I got a glimpse of the craaa-zy Memorial Day tourist traffic coming into Virginia Beach.  It lifted my spirits a bit knowing that summer is unofficially here and that 'tis the season of beach trips, lemonade, flip flops, and BBQs.  My mind continued to wander to the reason for 7 miles of gridlock... I wondered, were all of the families and college kids who were flocking to the beach giving enough thought to the meaning of Memorial Day?  Were they giving as much thought to the men and women who have given their life for our country as they did for what sides and desserts they needed to make for their cook out?

As a military spouse, it is unavoidable to worry about the knock on the door.  I remember during my husband's first deployment that I would have panic attacks in the shower.  I can't really say why it was then - maybe it was because crying in the shower is less messy and more well concealed.  It was his first time really landing and taking off on the aircraft carrier day in and day out and I was terrified.  He also flew enough combat missions to earn three air medals.  Apparently (according to others) that is a lot for one cruise.  More than some people get in 20 year careers.  I hadn't gotten (earned?) that tougher, thicker, more disconnected skin that I have today.  Back then I was just so so so afraid.  I am still afraid, but it is a distant fear, not one breathing down my neck all day when he is gone. Our air wing was lucky on that first cruise - no fatal mishaps.  Everyone who left, came home.

I vividly remember my first funeral as a military spouse.  We have a small, tight knit community.  It was a routine training flight off of the USS Truman and there was a mishap.  LT Cameron Hall, LT Ryan Betton, and LTJG Jerry Smith were killed.   I remember being so incredibly sad for the loss of those men, for their families, and for the community.  I remember being so impressed with Ryan's wife, Andrea, who mere days after his death stood in front of 1,500 people and gave a moving eulogy about her husband.  I remember wondering if I could be as strong as her if I were standing in her shoes. 

Thankful doesn't begin to describe how I feel for our military - both past and present.  All four of my grandparents served in the armed forces during World War II (my maternal grandmother served in the Royal English Navy).  My husband made the decision to join the military when he was very young.  We are high school sweethearts and even at 16 years old he knew he wanted to go to the Naval Academy, earn his commission, and serve his country.  Today, when I am having  a hard time with our lifestyle and ask "why us", "why you", etc. his answer is always simple.  Because I love you, I love my family, and I love my country.  Followed closely with "why not me"?  He has something to fight for.  He loves us very much and it keeps him focused when he is away and focused on why he is doing the hard job he does.  I feel very lucky that smart, intelligent, and fiercely loyal men like my husband are in the military.  It helps me sleep a little sounder at night.

So here's to our armed forces and the men who serve our country today and in the past.  To those who have lost a loved one or friend, my heart goes out to you this Memorial Day.  Know that there are many of us who have taken some time today to reflect on those brave souls who gave the ultimate sacrifice. 

I am thinking of my sweet husband, who is missing so much right now at home so that he can be "over there" standing the watch.

John and Kate (at 10 months)

John and Connor (4 months)


Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty. -John F. Kennedy

1 comments:

mygoalissimple.com said...

Military funeral services/memorial services are tough. They're even tougher for when they're for KIA that do the same exact job as your loved one. Yesterday, I thought about all those who have given all for our country. I can only hope others did the same.

Great post, Jill! And adorable pictures.

Karen

Hi, I'm Jill!

Hi, I'm Jill!
Extrovert. Mom of two. Wife of a cute Naval Aviator. Lover of wine. When I'm not chasing my two kids around town you will find me writing, taking too many photos, and researching the ten future areas the Navy could potentially (but probably won't) PCS us. We are fish out of water, landlocked at 7,000 feet. For now.

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