I have had several moments of late where I feel inspired. Inspired in such a grateful way.
It was recently my youngest daughter's birthday. It came at a very busy and hectic time in our lives (much like her birth). We slapped together a party which turned out to be a housewarming AND birthday party (why not kill two birds with one stone?) which made me feel a little guilty for stealing her thunder. But, as usual, our family and friends made it a warm and loving evening in her, and our, honor.
(Notice her cutie-patootie boyfriend, Evan. Could they be more adorable?)
It was funny when she was born....I can't even recall her due date now but with all the Scorpios in our family we were pretty sure that she would share a birthday with someone. Ironically enough, she picked her very own date (sandwiched in between her gorgeous cousin and her paternal grandfather who, unfortunately, she will never meet on this Earth) which turned out to be the Marine Corps "birthday".
We only joked about it when she was born but I know in my heart that my husband and I were deeply touched by this. Not only because of his intense pride of being a Marine but because of his sweet father who was so proud of his Marine sons. She has become a symbol, in my mind, of our Marine heritage in this new phase of our family life.
I am an Army "brat". I always felt a tiny bit of embarrassment when I had to admit this to people, especially civilians. I always felt it was something to be embarrassed about...especially when I was starting at a new school. Again. It was traumatic enough to live this gypsy life of moving every year and starting at a new school but when it had to be a school where there were other military kids and they knew I was the Colonel's daughter? Trust me, I didn't want to shout it from the rooftops.
It has only come with maturity and learning a lot more about my father, his upbringing, his experiences as a soldier, that I have been able to really embrace and revere his rank and my roots as a military child. I always took it in stride and made jokes about putting in my eighteen years in the Army but now can fully understand what that means for me and what it means for my kids when they, someday, want to understand me as a person and not just their mom.
We attended the Veterans Day parade in our hometown. I thought it would be fun for the girls to see all the pomp and circumstance involved in military fare. I never in my wildest dreams imagined how deeply moved I would be. Oh sure, a marching/military band or bagpipes can launch me into the waterworks like nobody's business but this was different. We met my parents near the parade route and walked to our vantage pointe. My father, The Colonel, was wearing his fatigues hat....no rank, no insignia, nothing. I thought it was interesting but didn't really think anything of it as he's been retired for quite some time. But I noticed other veterans milling around and, in their own familial way, would focus on my father, nod their head, say hello. It was strange to me but I knew. I knew what they were saying to each other with those nods.
We watched the endless stream of high school marching bands (sob!), platoons and battalions, bagpipes (sob!), jeeps, tanks....the whole deal. It felt like....home. All the years of changes of commands and moves and parades.....they washed over me in this strange emotional wave. It felt good. I felt....well, proud.
One particular group of soldiers walked by us and someone shouted from the sidelines "THANK YOU!" I noticed one soldier look over, almost in disbelief, and he said "you're welcome". I don't think I've ever been more moved by an exchange. With all the intolerance in the world... all of the ignorance about the war and politics and the military. It was just so refreshing, almost reassuring, to hear those simple words. Thank you.
I will never again be embarrassed to say I am a child of a soldier. I'll wear that rank with great pride and I will shout it from the rooftops no matter what people think. I will tell my kids they are children of a military family and will explain just what that means so they will never feel that it's something to be embarrassed about.
So to all the veterans in the world - past, present and future - to all of their families, to my husband, to the soldiers in Iraq and around the globe....thank you. But, most importantly, to my father, The Colonel.....thank you.