My father-in-law sent this Washington Post article to me a while ago. While Sam is getting ready for his second deployment and I've been waxing sentimental and getting 48034893 different kinds of moody and mopey...this article is a great reminder of why we do what we do. ("We" are Army/Air Force/Marine/Navy/Coast Guard/Defense Contractor wives that kiss our Boos goodbye. And wait. It doesn't matter if we agree, we are proud.)
A Soldier's Wife
By Georgie Hanlin
My childhood friend of 31 years visited my home on base, in Quantico, a
few months after I gave birth to my first baby. As we took a leisurely
stroll one evening through the lingering humidity of early September, I
explained to her how different military life is from the world in which
we grew up in San Francisco. We passed rows of colorful houses on the
tree-lined, manicured blocks and gazed at the playgrounds around the
neighborhood, ready to welcome the children of the officers who live
there. American flags hung from virtually every front door. The
occasional "My daddy fights for your freedom" bumper sticker adorned
some vehicles. As we looped around the bend toward my house, my friend
turned to me and asked, "How do you accept what your husband does for a
I glanced at her, startled. "What do you mean?" I asked.
"I guess I just don't know how to accept it. I don't believe in war,"
she responded, matter-of-factly.
My husband is an infantry captain for the U.S. Army. This week, he left
on his sixth combat deployment with the 2nd Infantry Division's Stryker
Brigade. He is to be gone for one year to launch Stryker vehicles into
Afghanistan under President Obama's new surge. My husband served with
the 1st Ranger Battalion in Savannah, Ga., for 2 1/2 years before
attending the Marine Corps' Expeditionary Warfare School.
We have been married for three years; he's been deployed for half that
time. My husband loves his country and serves it proudly, and for that I
love him. Is being an Army wife easy? Not at all. The moving, the worry,
the separation, the danger, the evening news and the politics of having
your spouse risk his life for wars that most of us don't understand or
don't accept certainly does stir something within me.
Since we married, I have been introduced to and lived in a community of
honorable people. Do I have everything in common with them? No, but I
learn from them every day. Military life and married life have been an
adventure; overall, they have most definitely taught me to truly value
the vows I took on my wedding day. As an Army wife, I've learned the
meaning of the expression "HUA" (heard, understood, acknowledged). I can
now recognize an improper salute. I basically understand rank and
protocol. I am beginning to know the acronyms, even though they seem to
be endless. I've watched my husband parachute and fast-rope out of
planes while training. I have attended military balls. I have hugged him
goodbye and wondered way too many times if I would ever hug him again. I
have seen soldiers break down. I have seen wives break down. I have made
several friends and left several friends. I have been to an award
ceremony at which a young Ranger received a Purple Heart; he lost a leg,
but he stood proudly in front of the audience. I have heard horror
stories about wives receiving word that their husbands were killed in
action and I have thanked God that it wasn't my husband. I still get
butterflies when I pick him up after each deployment. That feeling is
So how do I accept what my husband does for a living? Quite easily. He
serves his country and does so courageously, next to other respectable
men and women. He represents America with the utmost dignity while
overseas. The Army is lucky to have him, and so am I. While people sit
back and criticize what soldiers do, my husband risks his life over and
over again. Let's be honest: It's a job that most people don't want.
Many don't think about it because other people do it.
Other people do it.
Instead of trying to figure out how to accept or justify or understand
what my husband does because you don't believe in war, I'd beg you to
know that no one wants war; no one likes war. We'd all love a perfect
world, but we do not live in one. Our country is at war; two of them,
actually. Soldiers, my husband being one of them, have to deploy. We, as
families, have to worry and wait and hope.
I believe that the next time somebody asks me how I accept what my
husband does for a living, I will simply tell that person to appreciate
my husband's service and to enjoy his or her freedom while my husband
does what his country asks of him.
The writer, an elementary school teacher, lives in Virginia.
July 4, 2009