What Being a Military Family Means

 

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It’s tempting to think that being a military family means moving a lot, long term separations, being tough, hanging the American flag, and feeling honored on Veteran’s Day. We are the patriots. We make the sacrifices. Go us.

But you know what? It’s not about that, not really. It’s really all about freedom and protecting that freedom. It’s about being there when your country needs you. It’s about doing things other people do not want to do–doing things I don’t want to do either. And sometimes we all know that we may not have tomorrow. Every military spouse or parent lives with that fear– that feeling of driving home, seeing a strange car in your driveway, while your service member is away at war, and you think, “Oh, God, please don’t let that be a casualty officer.”

This morning Alan got a text message from our friend Max, telling him that Major General Greene was killed in Afghanistan.  This all happened on Tuesday, and I just hated getting this news. For more information, you can visit this page:

Major General Greene obituary

Alan worked for General Greene during our DC years and in Afghanistan, and he was an excellent person, boss, family man, and military officer. This is a great loss to his family and to our country. Alan said he was the kind of general that actually came out and played dodgeball with his team at the Pentagon. He even called Alan, when Alan was in Afghanistan, on Thanksgiving Day, to thank him for what he was doing.

When a death like this happens, it reminds us of the reality of our situation. There is no “safe place” in a combat zone. Any time we send someone over there, the risks are great. Our service men and women sign up knowing the risks. We families know them as well. Still, the news is hard to take.

It’s important to enjoy the fun and the glory that the military life does bring. Enjoy the good times while they are good. We got married straight out of college, in 2002, in over our heads in the aftermath of 9/11. I had no idea back then what patriotism meant. I never dreamed of all the things my family would be called upon to do. The things that have gone on politically ever since have always hit us so close to home that I really couldn’t even form an un-biased opinion on any of it. Sometimes it’s hard for me to think of issues like the ongoing Middle East crisis and terrorism as “What’s best for our country?” and not “Oh no. Will this send Alan overseas?” But of course, if we don’t fight terrorism, terrorism will show up at our door. Sometimes we are quick to forget what started this war in the first place.

But I can’t write talking points on the war. I quit watching the news in 2009, during Alan’s second long tour in Iraq, when Joshua started seeing footage on t.v., and I just couldn’t take it.  I couldn’t watch it, and I couldn’t stand to have my little bitty boys hear it. I didn’t want them to worry.

Yesterday morning I picked up a copy of an actual newspaper from the hotel lobby. At eight and seven years old, I think it’s time for them to begin to “get it.”  No, the world isn’t a “safe” place. It never has been. However, I do not want them to be ignorant. It grates my nerves when I see people on Facebook posting all of their uninformed opinions. I don’t want that to be my children. I want them to know why we have made the sacrifices that we have made. I want them to have a firm grip on reality.

Today our prayers are with the Greene family. This was a terrible loss for our country.