I woke up this morning and I got to dress my kids before they headed off to school. To be able to walk into their bedroom first thing in the morning and see them with messy bed hair, sleepy eyes, and a morning smile that is almost impossible to recreate, it was truly amazing. I rarely get to do that, because while my kids are still sleeping and it is still dark outside, I am (on most days) waking up and putting on my boots and uniform to go to work before they ever wake up. I kiss them and cover them up before I go, but they don’t know that. I get to miss the morning melt downs, the messy breakfasts,the morning giggles, the hunts for those missing shoes and socks, the first kisses every day and I leave it to my husband to enjoy. It may sound miserable, but I would give almost anything to do it more often.
My job is not in Iraq, Afghanistan,or in any dangerous war or hostile zone. It is located in the middle of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania where there isn’t a ship in sight, or ocean for that matter. I haven’t been onboard a ship since 2010, and I do administrative work now. Some may think it isn’t enough. But I still make sacrifices. I’ve left my family before, my oldest when he was only 3 months old and I have had to trust the care of my 6 week old baby to perfect strangers to answer the call to duty. I’ve done that. I’ve missed first words, first steps, first boo boos and it hurts. I am a mother. Think of your mother and how much she was there for you, how much did it pain her when she couldn’t be there. What makes it worse is when people think that my pain and sacrifice isn’t enough to consider a sacrifice at all.
Don’t misunderstand, the Navy is the proudest and biggest accomplishment next to my family. It has shaped me into the strong independent and reliable individual that I am today. It has opened my eyes to experiences I never thought I would ever have and taught me to embrace who I am. I love the Navy, but those sacrifices do hurt, even those some may consider small or insignificant.
After my children left for school I went to the closet and got out my dress uniform and made sure everything looked good. Today is Veteran’s day, I have a day off and that is why I got to see my kids off, I would have kept them home to spend time with them but I needed to go honor our Veterans today, those who many have forgotten about. Those men and women who served and now have nothing except one day a year to look forward to for a simple “thank you”.
It is possibly the last time I get to wear this uniform in this capacity, next year I will be leaving the military in search for something else, perhaps the thing I need most in my life, family. I put my uniform on and I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic, to think of all the hard work that has gone into being able to put this uniform on and wear it proudly. Its not something to take lightly, to wear a uniform and be looked at as the representation of your country is a big deal. You have to do it right. There is blood, sweat and tears that have gotten us to this point so please don’t forget. Honor a veteran today, honor a vet tomorrow, honor a vet always. They are the reason I can write this freely and the reason why you can read it.