Monday, May 26, 2008

Happy Memorial Day

It seems kind of strange to wish someone a "Happy" Memorial Day, doesn't it?  Memorial Day=when we take the time to remember and honor the people who died while serving their country in the military.  It honestly never occurred to me that Memorial Day is not the happy holiday that most Americans think it is.  Especially when I was a teacher- Memorial Day meant a day off from work, and the end of the school year was coming soon!  I certainly know better now.

I've learned a lot and changed a lot over the past few years.  One major thing that changed about me was that I became a military wife.  It is so hard to describe what that means to someone who really has no clue, and I even hesitate now just because I cannot ever do it justice.  No matter what I say about being a military family it can be construed many different ways by people's own opinions, biases, etc.  I'll try all the same.

It means:
The Air Force comes first, no matter what.
Held to a higher standard, and expectation-wives and children included
Job security (for some!)
We go where they send us...there is no "I don't want to move to North Dakota!"
Hearing fighter jets above my house at 7am almost every morning
Health insurance for our whole family
Hubby looks DAMN good in his uniform
Working more than 40 hrs a week- there is no overtime
Deployment can happen at any time to anywhere
The evening news hits a little more close to home
I'm just thankful he's not in the Army or Marines- don't get me started
A year doesn't even seem that long anymore
I can do it by myself if I have to
Being disliked and judged by people who don't even know you
We live in a relatively "safe" neighborhood
Sometimes feeling unappreciated and underpaid!
Getting to go through the Military/Diplomat passport line in the airport

I'll stop there.  Whatever people's reason for joining the military- GI Bill, family tradition, hoping for a career, wanting to serve their country, college wasn't an option and parents kicked them out (yes, I've heard that one!), 9-11 inspired them, etc.....I have discovered that we all have so many more commonalities than we do differences.  I admit- the stereotypical military wife to me was 18, uneducated, pregnant, lived her life for her husband, and Republican.  BOY was I wrong.  Well, maybe not about the Republican part.  Haha!  Just kidding.  The fact is- I was wrong.  I've learned, I have changed.

Memorial Day will always stand as a reminder to me now that one day I could be met at the door by two men in Dress Blues who have come to tell me that the person I love so dearly and who I chose to be my partner in gone.  That the man who sings Meatloaf off-key on car trips and loves our daughter so much- would never sing to us, or hold her again.  Regardless of how you feel about the President, the war, the coming election, or the military...please take a moment to remember those who have died, their poor families left behind...and that it could be us one day.

This is a very touching slideshow documenting the work of a Marine Corps officer whose job it was to notify families of their service member's death.  The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist was interviewed on NPR today, which led me to this.  This is what Memorial Day is all about.


Em said...

So sweet Mary! What a great Memorial day post! It is hard to remember what Memorial Day is about when romping around on the beach with the kids or cruzing the gift shops on vacation. Thanks for pulling it all together. Great Tribute!

Rocketgirl said...

This is the perfect tribute to our military Thank you so much for sharing! A good friend of mine signed up inbetween his undergrad and law school, because of 9-11, and it was so eye opening to me to have someone I loved on the front lines. I've been trying to focus on the real meaning of Memorial Day this year, and I needed your perspective, thanks. And thanks for supporting your husband supporting us!

Tina said...

I admire all of you military wives. I don't know how anyone does it. The babies father, whom I almost married, was military. I don't know that I could have survived that and he wasn't active duty. It takes a special person to serve in the military and special people to be married to those in the service. You go girl!