After the Veterans Events Tallahassee press conference where VET. INC. expressed their concerns regarding continuation of the parade due to lack of community participation as it pertains to funding, we received the following letter. Evidence that it is more than just veterans that honored by the parade. It is families all across America.......
A Mother and Wife’s Appeal
When I was 18 years old I married a young boy, really. I met Jay and married him within a year of high school. He had graduated from the same high school the year before I did and really wasn’t interested in college, nor did his family have the means to support him during a lengthy education. We met months before he left for boot camp to join the Navy and fell in love. The first deep love either of us had experienced; we decided to get married.
Since he was to have a steady job in his career with the Navy we felt assured that our future was set and after boot camp we eloped and found a small apartment near the base at his first duty station in Jacksonville, FL. Within 12 weeks of our marriage my husband, barely more than a boy, left for his first 6 month deployment to Rota, Spain. I was so thankful that we were only 3 hours from our hometown and I could visit often. However, the backbone to my survival and sanity was the military family that I found in the other wives who were left behind by their husbands serving their country. Not only were the wives a source of support to me, but the husbands that were home from their own deployments and the guys on shore duty felt a sense of duty to those wives who were at home keeping households afloat and raising children as single mothers.
The nights of endless loneliness and the ache which lived in my heart as I longed for my husband eventually lead me to determine that I would never spend another deployment alone. Even though the time for the guys at home between deployments ranged from 9 months to a year, I decided that pregnancy would be the best solution for my loneliness.
That desire brought me to facing childbirth without my husband three weeks after he left for his second deployment this time to Iceland. Now, the fear that lurked quietly while my husband was deployed to moderately hostile countries was full blown. The fear that I felt as I looked down at the face of my first son, knowing that he could someday be enlisted in the service of his country, was palpable. At the time of my son’s birth, in 1983, I survived at home on a $900 monthly portion of my husband’s pay. To this day, I have no idea how he survived on the $200 a month left to him, even with housing and chow hall food provided by the Navy.
There was one instance during a Christmas holiday that the temperatures hung well below freezing and burst the main waterline underneath my home. A fellow service member home between deployments came to my rescue and purchased and repaired my waterline. The only place I have seen anything similar to this same type of support for family has been within the biker community.
Today, I have two sons who serve in the United States Navy. When my second son deployed to Afghanistan in 2011 I leaned on my experiences of coping, as a Navy wife years before, to endure his time away in a very hostile region of the world. I feared for his safety, but did not allow myself the opportunity to dwell on it. My eldest son is on shore duty at this time, but when he sailed off from shore on a Naval destroyer my heart beats a little stronger until his safe return.
As this Veteran’s Day approaches, I think of my ex-husband and his time in the Navy and his sacrifice of time spent with his sons as they grew up. I consider how hard commitment is to my oldest son and wonder if constantly seeing his dad leave contributed to that difficulty. My younger son, sadly has no memories of the way his dad played with him in those early years.
Last year was the first year that I was able to participate with and ride in the Veteran’s Day parade. It gave me an opportunity to allow my feelings of thankfulness and gratitude for my ex-husband and son’s sacrifice to be displayed proudly and publicly. I remembered the year the parade was cancelled due to the possibility of inclement weather and how frustrating it was when it never rained a drop. I am now a soccer mom and a soccer game sure would never have been cancelled in the same circumstance. What does that say?
I am not putting these thoughts down today to blow off some long repressed steam due to my anger and frustration about what has occurred in the past, but to call out to those who have the power to do something different today. Who among us today can say that their lives remain untouched by our U.S. Military? I am not speaking of the military machine that lives at the Pentagon, but of the military that lives in the faces of our friends and loved ones.
Let us do something different and instead of rallies to defeat a purpose, let us rally in support of the men and women who have given life, family, health and service to us, to America. In my case, I am afraid that I do not educate myself or get involved with any of the multitude of causes in this Country because I am afraid I will get fired up and then not be able to “do” anything.
This Veteran’s Day you have the opportunity to easily do something for our service members past, present and future. Get involved! If you do not have the luxury of time give money. If you have no money in these difficult economic times give of yourself. If you have both, give both. This is not about accusation or guilt but of conviction and duty. Now, get with it.