My Sailor and I were walking around The Animal Kingdom in Disney World, Florida. We'd just gotten engaged the day before. It was pouring down rain and we were decked out for the weather. I had borrowed his rain jacket and wore the black baseball cap that said "Recruit" across the front of it. He'd sent it to me when he finished Boot Camp. He wore his black "Navy" hat he graduated to once completing those hard months in Chicago. We were on our way out of the park that afternoon, after having a great time with friends and being completely soaked through the skin, when a cast member ducked out of her shelter and stopped us.
"Are you really in the Navy?" she asked My Sailor, as the cool pouring rain quickly soaked her uniform.
"I am. She's not, but we just got engaged," he answered.
She immediately wrapped her arms around his neck and gave him a good strong hug. "Thank you for all you do. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you." She released him and wrapped her arms around me. "And thank you for keeping the home fires burning."
"I wouldn't have it any other way," I returned the hug - and will admit to being a little misty eyed as she left for shelter under a near by awning and I caught a glimpse of the pride and smile on My Sailor's face.
July 4th, 2011 -
As I look around at all the people wishing each other "Happy 4th of July", it has a lot more meaning for me this year. See, I've always had friends who did the "military thing". Even my dad "did the Navy thing," though he rarely discusses any of those days. I considered doing the AirForce thing myself after High School. But now that a large part of my heart is employed by the Navy (My Sailor), I finally have a deeper understanding of what it means to be one of those military families. It means not knowing when you can plan things, and when you can't. It means making just about any time together "quality", because you never know the Navy will call again. It means spending holidays without your loved one, but knowing that your hearts are together when it's physically impossible to be together.
I don't regret it for a minute. I'm very proud of My Sailor. We knew this was going to be hard, so it's not too much of a surprise. But sometimes it's harder than we thought. Having America safe isn't free. The cost can't be measured by dollars and cents. It's in all those holidays, birthdays, and special events missed by hardworking fathers and mothers. It's in the families who visit the graves of those lost to war. It's in the challenges taken on by our military and our law enforcement so we can listen to the music we want to listen to, wear the clothes we prefer, believe whatever we choose to, and live in relative freedom.
This experience has changed me. Even though I grew up in a town where Marines often made their homes, I still have a much deeper respect for our military and all they, and their families, give up.
The "Thank you's" we receive from time to time may seem small to those who say them, but they mean a lot.
So Thank You military men, women, and families. Have a safe and happy 4th of July.