It’s hard for a civilian to imagine what our military go through, even as a spouse. Every Veterans Day weighs heavy on my heart. I gazed upon a group of veterans this morning before I left work. I marveled at the incredible souls they each were. I found myself pondering what their service cost them…. I know what it cost my husband, our family, our marriage. My husbands military enlistment was not easy for me, and it sure wasn’t easy for him. There are numerous ways our military pay a high price for our freedom, ranging from disabilities and failed marriages, to the ultimate price.
I hold a deep love and appreciation for every branch of the military. Though my small glimmer of familiarity, lies with the Marine Corps. I know the person my husband was prior to serving our country, I know the person he was during those years, and I know the person he is today in the wake of an enlistments end. There were blessings of growth that stemmed from his enlistment, and burdens of impairment. The level of stress and pressure our military carry during their time served is immeasurable. Marines are expected to uphold in every aspect, the biggest baddest attitude and demeanor. You can only uphold a façade for so long before you start believing in it. Emotion a sign of weakness, disconnection a new coping mechanism. The problem with disconnection is the emotion is only buried, a calm before the storm. In time it will wash over you in waves, and if you are not careful, you may find yourself drowning. A damaged military member is never devoid of empathy and feelings, they feel as deeply as you. They simply have been conditioned not to show it. A transformation not easily undone. The substantial weight of service to ones country, weighs heavy on the strongest shoulders. I understand those who find themselves drinking, smoking, and cussing more than they would prior to an enlistment. I understand a comment that humanity is lost. Though it is never lost my friend.
I remember the day my husband removed his uniform for the last time. I remember washing and folding it, and the day the moving company packed it into a box as the end of his active days as a Marine were concluded. I remember his relief and disorientation. A illusive idea he had nothing to show for his sacrifice but a free meal once a year. I also remember failing to tell him what his enlistment meant. As the saying goes, “It is hard to see the forest for the trees”. In the moment, I focused on long hours, calloused disconnection, low pay, poor health care, deployments spent in fear, and cultural shock of relocations. I was immensely relieved to be leaving his duty station for the last time.
What I wish I had said in that moment….
You, my love, are a Marine. You are not a uniform, or a contract. You are the beating heart of America, the blood striped onto our flag, the lyrics of “The Star Spangled Banner”. You are my love, our children’s father, a son, and brother who served his country with honor. I chose you, before your enlistment, during, and still today as it concludes. This life you gifted us, has been built on a foundation of respect, love, and gratitude, because of your devotion to our country. Today you are a Marine Veteran, though forever a Marine.
Thank you, Marine, for your courage to fight.
Thank you, Soldier, for braving the plight.
Thank you, Sailor, for your desire to go.
Thank you, Airman, for the valor you show.
You’ve signed away freedom, and given your years.
You’ve honored those fallen, saluting through tears.
You’ve said your goodbyes, for dangerous tours.
While I’ve held my babies, you’ve thought about yours.
You’ve defended our country, despite an election.
You’ve respected our flag, with pride and reflection.
You’ve marched side by side, entrusting another.
Seeing no color, for a sister or brother.
You are integrity, honor, and pride.
You are the person, I want by my side.
You are discipline, dedication, and drive.
You are the heart, that keeps us alive.
You are the blood, striped onto our flag.
You’re the American, we should all brag.
Your actions are louder, than words that I say.
Though I still want to thank you, especially today.
There are no great words, for all you have done.
No verbal payment, for your years with a gun.
Thank you for bravery, in signing away,
Many long years, for bad food and poor pay.
Thank you for all of the things you have seen.
In keeping all of our memories clean.
Thank you for holidays, you’ve spent in the field.
And for every secret, you’ve kept concealed.
Thank you for burdens, you’ve had to bear.
To be our American force, who’s always there.
From the bottom of my heart, Thank You to every military member. Active, retired, and former.
All my love,