I’m thankful to all the people who tell veterans, “Happy Veteran’s Day!” because I’m a veteran. But I’m even more thankful for the people who tell the spouses of veterans thank you for their support of those who put on a military uniform.
Sometimes we (military members) leave for work down the road, or we leave the country to work down someone else’s road. Either way, it’s our spouses that are left with the house and everything inside that makes it a home. It’s not always the service member who has the hardest job. Sometimes, it’s their spouse.
An old man once took my ear on a journey through his Squad’s survival story in the snow-filled pastures of Europe in which they carried no ammunition or food rations. I was stood motionless and tried to comprehend what he told me, but I couldn’t do it. His story lasted nearly thirty minutes and when he finished he said, “Do you know what I mean?”
I smiled and politely said, “No Sir, I have no idea what you mean, I can only imagine it.”
My wife’s grandfather returned the smile and turned back to face the barbeque grill. You see, until then I hadn’t been to a war zone.
Two years later, I was standing in Kuwait’s dry heat awaiting a C-130 ride to a place in northern Iraq I’ll never forget.
One of my many unedited journal entries while I was in Iraq . . .
Thursday 24, 2008
Today is great. I woke early because I’m on the 3-11 shift, and walked to chow. I enjoy eating breakfast by myself here. It’s the only quiet time when nobody is talking about mortars, car bombs, or snipers. I’m waiting for packages to come from home; I think the mail dude likes to punish me. And he doesn’t even know I have packages coming. I’m trying to put together a good workout plan and I’m not sure if just can’t think or I really don’t want to. Yesterday an apartment complex here exploded while Iraqi Army was trying to do a raid and today a car bomb rocked the base. Doesn’t get any more f*cking real than this.
I feel guilt every time I let a veteran of any war walk past without saying, “Thank you for everything you gave up to do what needed to be done during your time in uniform.” I work hard to ensure it doesn’t happen very often. Now, even more than before, I appreciate every veteran, military member, and their families.
I could not be more proud to wear the military uniform of The United States.
photo by stephen.moore