My relationship with the Army began 24 years ago.
I was a freshman in college trying to find my place on a huge college campus. My long-standing fascination with the military led me to the Army Stars, a group dedicated to supporting the cadets of the college’s ROTC program. Though we didn’t do anything life-changing (we provided lots of snacks in the name of moral support), we did our best to make things a little less spartan for the young cadets.
I met some great people there, (including the man who would become my husband), and even toyed with the idea of becoming an Army nurse. Unfortunately, I ran out of college money, and courage.
I did, however, marry the young soldier I met in college, and I followed him as he embarked upon his Army career. I learned all I could from him, and I discovered a love for the history and tradition of the military. I again found myself looking for ways to get involved, and I found my place organizing events for single soldiers.
After two short years, my curiosity, and my tomboy tendencies, got the best of me. I found the courage I had been missing in college, (and a disdain for dead-end jobs) and I enlisted for four years as an Army journalist. And I discovered that I really enjoyed writing.
I met amazing people and traveled to new places. I had the opportunity to tell incredible stories about the heroes who serve in our military, and I worked with other dedicated people who did the same.
When I left at the end of four years to (finally) finish my college degree, I immediately missed the Army. My husband and I finished our degrees, and started a family, and moved into other endeavors. But the yearning for the Army never left us. We missed the people, the mission, and the Army way of life.
And we spent 10 years longing to be part of it all again.
Through a series of events I can only describe as God-ordained, my husband returned to the Army after a long absence. My children, who had only known civilian life, were thrust into the military way of life, living on an Army base and attending Army schools. Though their dad had always traveled because of his work, the absences were longer now, and there was a looming danger in every deployment.
But like other military kids, they adapted to the change, and thrived in the community of other Army families. They learned the importance of patriotism and service, and they learned to be accepting of other people.
The Army has taught us all that life is fragile, that “family” isn’t limited to the people you’re biologically related to, and that it is a privilege to be part of the United States military.
Twenty-four years later, we are still an Army family. I still love the military, and I still get teary-eyed when the national anthem plays. We have friends all over the world, and though our paths may never cross again, our lives are better for having known them, even briefly.
Though we’re in the latter stages of my husband’s career, I still take great pride in family’s service. I am thankful to know so many selfless, courageous people who serve our great nation. And I continue to be awed by the fact that those who do so much ask so little in return.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” — John 15:13