I've been mulling this around since Saturday. Thinking about how I wanted to word it and get my thoughts and feelings across to those of you out there in Internet Land. I've even woken up at night with a thought that I wanted to put down to prove my point and then I've fallen back asleep with a smile on my face.
Let me tell you about Military Glue. It's a strange substance that you don't even know you're covered in until it's too late. It is mysteriously poured over your head when you start talking to that active duty person. It seeps into every corner and crevice to form a seal so tight that Ajax can't take it off. What's amazing about it is that it can stretch for thousands of miles before snapping back into place when that man or woman returns and steps off the plane into your view or you finally pick him out of many getting off of a boat or ship. It's water proof, able to withstand the deepest seas and oceans. It keeps you connected to that person on a level that you sometimes can't even feel or see. Every email...even if it's only two sentences long...can put a shot of strength back into it that would amaze the average person. And I don't even think it's ever entirely broken even if you are the person who has to sit in a chair where you are full of grief and look a somber faced uniformed man in the eye as he hands you the flag off of a coffin.
This past Saturday we took our kids to a local water park as a celebration. School is over and grades were good. We survived an entire school year in a new place, in a new state, in a new life. New friends have been made all around and life was just feeling pretty durn good. Some friends of ours have three kids also, so we packed picnic lunches and went to enjoy the day.
C (that's my friend and I haven't asked for permission to put her name on here yet...) and I were sitting on lounge chairs watching the kids and people around us....just enjoying a beautiful Saturday and the fact that the men were out there in front of us with the kids. I happened to start looking around us and this thought became apparent. We are a predominantly military town here. There are a few of those across this great nation. A majority of the people there were military families. From the very young to the old ones like ourselves. I saw men with buzz cuts and golf tans holding bald babies while sitting in 4 inches of water. And loving every minute of it. I just know those golf tans aren't from golf, but from wearing BDU's* (battle dress uniform-camouflage) day in and day out. There were alot of cries of "Daddy, look at me!!" floating in the air. I'm not excluding the women in our military, but ours is a submarine community and, therefore, most of what you see here will be active duty men....very few women. There were some extra pale men and I will assume they probably haven't been home long from riding under the deep blue in a sub.
I made the comment to C that military families are an extra close breed of family. As a former Marine Brat and now Navy Wife, she completely agreed. You see, being close or not being close isn't an option for us. We are shifted around from base to base** every three or so years and when you get where you are going....family that is with you is all you have. I know from personal experience it's made the five of us extremely close in the past year. We've had to learn how to live together and work together in a house. (Okay.... so we're still working on that one). If you're lucky, you'll find a friend or two to click with. Someone to go shopping with or just hang out and know you have enough in common that conversations won't be hard. You will pray that your kids find a friend, then you dread the day that family packs up and moves to their next station because it will break your kid's heart. And secretly? It breaks yours, too, when your new friend has to do the same.
I know there are times that it's easier to forget the ones left behind when men and women go do their duty. Be it on foreign land, in the air, or upon the sea, when you support the troops, you support the families. We know we love these people. There's no doubt. While they are gone, we will post pictures around the house of Dad to keep him fresh in young minds. We will record that missing parent reading a bedtime book that will be watched over and over until the real deal comes home to do it in person. We will dance with joy over phone calls so filled with static that last thirty seconds because we heard the words I LOVE YOU and it's validation that our loved one is still alive...one day closer to coming home. Although we will still wish we could have had another minute so we could tell them the car is broke down and which mechanic did he say to use????
We, and I say we in the collective spirit of the military family, need you to love our people. Our people love every inch of land you walk on so much they would die to ensure your next step upon it. Our people cry no matter where they hear the National Anthem played because it means something to them so deep down in their soul, no one but God can touch them there.
Yesterday in church the pastor asked for those who had lost a loved one in the military to stand up. I didn't have to. My grandfather came home and my Daddy came home. I was glad I didn't have to stand up, but I could only imagine the strength of that glue that held them close in their family's hearts while they were gone.
My glue might not be what I want seeping into my crevices sometimes, but it's there. It started pouring over my head on May 27, 2001 when I spoke to my husband for the first time and it's gotten nothing but stronger every since. And it has had to stretch quite a ways and for a long period of time.....but it has never broken or scared me into thinking it was going to.
So, I guess my thought to you on this Memorial Day is to go beyond putting a magnet or bumper sticker on your car as a "show of support". Let the Military Families out there know that you love their people, too, because they are just like you, Internets. They are our brothers, sisters, Mommies, Daddies, sons, daughters, aunts, and uncles. We need our glue to stay strong and true.
**I am fortunate. I won't have to do this but one time before Fred retires, but there are many who have done this so much they've lost count. One parent couldn't remember where one of her children went to first grade because it was a time her hubby's orders got changed at the drop of a hat and they had to move so quickly. It happens.
**BDU's. Our boys here, for the most part, don't wear BDU's on a daily basis. They DO wear uniforms with short sleeves and it depends on what they're doing as to which uniform they will be wearing. Most people associate BDU's with the military, which is why I used them in my post.