May is full of patriotism! It’s Military Appreciation Month, and celebrates Military Spouse Appreciation Day, Memorial Day, and Armed Forces Day – which is today! It was created on August 31, 1949 by Defense Secretary Louis Johnson to replace the separate Army, Navy, and Air Force Days. (The Marines still officially celebrate Marine Corp Day.) For more on the history, visit http://www.defense.gov/afd/history.aspx.
Yesterday, I was blessed to spend time with a small group of ladies who all “get it.” I recently found a Meetup.com group in the DFW area for military wives, fiancees, and girlfriends, and last night they held a casual get-together. I decided to go, so I brought a bottle of white wine and an appetizer to share, and gathered with the other ladies at the group coordinator’s home. It was SUCH a wonderful, refreshing time! We ended up hanging out for 5 hours just talking, laughing, and enjoying the food and drinks.
Almost all the Armed Forces branches were represented: we had a Navy Reservist wife, an Air Force wife, an Army medically-retired wife, an Army girlfriend, and me, an Army fiancee. Even our ethnicities were diverse: German, Spanish, and Asian were included in the mix. But the bond that I felt with each one was incredible, even though I had just met them. Our ties to the military drew us together and created a special sisterhood.
We talked about a large variety of things, from our men’s deployments, our experiences with deployment, marriage issues, the great things about being a military wife, and other things non-military related. But one of the best moments of the evening was when the Navy Reservist wife was explaining something about her husband’s Afghanistan deployment, and I had a lightbulb moment and exclaimed, “Wait, really?? I’m so glad I’m not the only one who experienced that!” Of course I’ve read about other wives’ experiences online, but this was where it all clicked. There were MANY other instances where one of us would be explaining something, and we’d all nod and say, “I know exactly what you mean” or “I’ve felt that exact thing, too” or “My husband acts the exact same way.” There is such comfort and encouragement in those moments; you feel that you are not alone, even though you’ve always known it intellectually.
These ladies just “get it.” I could tell they all love their guys very deeply, but at the same time, have a confident independence about themselves. It is ironic that the military calls wives “dependents,” when they are really not dependent at all! As much as we love our soldiers, we live with the knowledge and confidence that if, God forbid anything would happen to them and they would never come home, we would make it okay. We would be able to pick up our emotional pieces and have a good life, which is exactly what they would want us to do. At the same time, living with this knowledge makes us that much more thankful and appreciative of the precious time we have with them, and we love them with a fierceness that others might never experience.
We know what it is like to be proud of our Armed Forces, and today we salute each one of them.