Memorial Day

I don’t remember my very first Memorial Day as an Army Wife, but I do recall that it was 2003, and my husband was serving his first tour of duty in Tikrit, Iraq, at that time.

I also remember that in 2003, Memorial Day began to mean fathoms more to me than it had before because that year, 4 men in Alan’s unit died.

Memorial Day

photo courtesy of Rachel Jack

SSG Steven W. White

SPC. Richard Arriaga

SGT. Anthony O. Thompson

SPC. James C. Wright

I didn’t personally know these men or their families. Alan only knew one of them.

You would think that these deaths of soldiers serving with my husband and my friends’ husbands would have made me extremely fearful and anxious for Alan’s safety.

But I can’t explain it to you. I did not feel all that worried about Alan’s safe return. I always just figured he’d return home without a scratch. That sounds foolish, but you have to remember that I was 21, perhaps that’s yet another reason we let our young adults fight our wars. Some of us, like me, are still brazen enough to believe nothing tragic will ever happen to them.

Unfortunately, so many tragedies did happen, and are still happening all around us. In the past few weeks, several soldiers from Alan’s duty station have been killed in action in Afghanistan, and it always hurts.

It may not be us, and yet it IS us. Every one of these service members IS us, and they gave their very lives to fight for our country.

I asked my friends to share photos of friends and family members who were killed in action defending the red, white, and blue. It always makes it more real to me when I see the pictures and am reminded of those whom we have lost.

Today we want to honor all the men and women who have given all they had for this country.

“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  –John 15:13

CPT Leif Nott., Operation Iraqi Freedom (photo from Sally Chavous)

Sally was one of my best Army wife buddies during Alan’s first deployment.

Sally wrote:

“This photo of Captain Leif Nott was taken the day the guys left. He was killed during OIF 1. He was in 1-10 CAV with Jon (Sally’s husband) and was killed in Belaruz, Iraq July 30, 2003.

The news of Leif’s death really impacted me (Jon too). Going to his funeral was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. He is buried in Cheyenne, WY. I remember the streets were lined with people between the church and cemetery.”

Sally and Jon also lost their friend CPT Matt Mattingly. He served with 1-10 CAV as well but he was killed during another deployment with the 82nd airborne in Mosel, Iraq in September 2006. I don’t have a pic of Matt.

 

Memorial Day

Sgt. Michael J. Knapp (1983-2012), Asadabad, Afghanistan, photo from forever missed.

My friend Kasey wrote, “He and his wife were dear friends of ours when we were stationed in Ft Lewis. We were in the same small group together.”

 

This next one is in our own family, Alan’s Uncle Carey.

 

Memorial Day

Carey Allen Cunningham, Vietnam War, USAF, photo courtesy of Anna Cunningham

Anna writes:

“Captain Carey Allen Cunningham, USAF, Navigator of an F4 Phantom. Shot down over North Vietnam while on a reconnaissance mission on August 2nd, 1967.

Status: killed in action, body not recovered until April, 1998, when new mitochondrial DNA testing was advanced enough to identify his remains so we could have a funeral. He was buried at the cemetery in his hometown of Collinsville, Alabama, overlooking his High School.

He is my Dad.”

 

 

Rachel, another one of my best Army wife buddies from way back, sent me a photo of SPC. Richard Arriaga, one of the 4 soldiers in Alan’s very first unit who died while they were serving in OIF I.

Memorial Day

SPC. Richard Arriaga, photo courtesy of Rachel Jack

He was only 20, of Ganado, Texas; was killed Sept. 18 during an ambush by small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades in Tikrit, Iraq.

We’ve lost so many of our very best. We could go on and on and on. I wrote about the time Alan’s boss died in Afghanistan, a few years ago. You might take a moment to read that one.

I recently made friends with a young Army widow with 2 elementary age school children. Her husband was a Ranger. She wasn’t expecting to live out life as a single mom either. Watching her is the most powerful reminder I’ve ever seen of just how great a sacrifice these men and their families have made. My own sacrifice pales to a mere thing that happened, rather than a sacrifice.

So today, we simply want to say thank you. We can’t express our gratitude enough. Thank you.

 

 

***This post is part of the Real Army Wives series, which runs every Monday morning, on Storiesofourboys.com.*****

 

 

Exciting News, Dirt Angels, and Checking on Daniel

 

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Playing peek-a-boo and look! He was holding his favorite toy airplane, Dusty! So this was before he buried Dusty in the sand. We spent 10 minutes looking, but Dusty was never to be found again. He’s hoping to get a new one for his 3rd birthday.

I’m sitting by the bathroom, making sure JD does not splash while he takes his bath. I can hear some other children of mine downstairs, voicing their disapproval of what I’ve cooked for dinner, and well….I’m thinking perhaps some of my summer vacation plans should be alone….maybe Alan can come, but that’s it.

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When Aunt Janet and Daniel get together

So here’s my EXCITING NEWS. JD suddenly up and decided to start pooping on the potty this week. I’ve died and gone to Heaven, but first, there was that one day….

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JD, you just made your momma so happy!!!

–John David excitedly met me in the hall way shouting, “I pooped in the potty! I pooped in the potty!”

Cautiously, I ran to the toilet to check his story. Odd. He seemed so proud, and there was a smudge in the bowl, but no poop….

“JD, where’s the poop?”

“Right there!” So it was. There was a shiny wet log, wrapped in a baby wipe like a poop-hot dog, sitting there on the bathroom counter.

“Oh!!  Ah!! Okay, JD, Mommy is so proud of you. Yeah!!  Good job!!! It is so great that you pooped on the potty. You are a BIG boy now, but please, next time, let’s leave the poop in the potty.”

“Yes, JD, so great. Big boy! Definitely always leave it in the toilet.”

….Then the next day he pooped in his underwear again. I wasn’t impressed. JD asked, “So I’m a little boy again?”

Sigh.

But ever since he’s been doing it the right way. He just suddenly shouts, “I gotta poop!”

We help him with his shorts, and then he runs off to the potty. Hurray!!!

 

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“I’m making dirt angels!” (There aren’t enough baths in the world to keep this many little boys clean.)

So let’s recap the month of May:

Thesis: finished

Homeschool: DONE!

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Field Trip to The Farm

Last child in diapers: Potty-trained!

Ablation: Canceled. Monitor inserted instead. I’m having lots of dizzy spells, though. I don’t know if they are a heart thing, but I have an appointment on Thursday.

Preschool: Graduated!

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That was the last time my camera was seen or used, unfortunately…Sigh. No idea where he put that thing.

The move: all booked, scheduled, and planned. We are 3 weeks out!!!!

New House: Well, I’m still working on that one. Let’s not be hasty when it comes to my home sweet home.

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The big boys: Improved their wardrobe by 100% by letting them watch The Sandlot. After that, they started dressing like Rodriguez, from the movie, and playing baseball ALL the time. They started their own league, at the elementary school baseball field, called The Sandlot League.

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Don’t get too excited. They are already starting to go back to neon basketball shorts with shirts that don’t match.

The food: Emma introduced us to a delicacy that I sort of became addicted to, and you can buy them at the local farmer’s market:

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Oh, yeah. Gluten free caramel apples!

 

Things are sounding pretty awesome, don’t you think?

It reminds me of that saying that you hear at church:

“God is good all the time. All the time, God is good!”

Alan and our friend, Tom, are taking the three oldest boys and Tom’s son to a minor league game today. JD and I are hopefully working on cleaning out drawers and cabinets in preparation for this move. I’ve already completed 4 closets, the buffet drawers, and the living room.

It feels SO GOOD to haul stuff off to Goodwill!!

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One last story:

This is what my to do list looked like the other day:

-Morning Chores

-Check on Daniel.

-Shower/get ready

-Check on Daniel.

-Start sheets.

-Check on Daniel.

-Put away laundry. Move sheets to dryer.

-Check on Daniel.

-Well, you get the idea.  He’s such a good kid, and I can take him anywhere, but left to himself, he is busy, creative, and mischievous. You never know what he might decide to do!

Sometimes I do wonder what he will try next.

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hehehe, fun with Aunt Janet’s iPad….And yes, that’s our thankful tree in the background. Yes, it’s almost June, and it’s been up since Thanksgiving. I couldn’t bear to take it down, I like thankful trees even better than Christmas trees. So much less stressful!!

Happy Memorial Day, y’all!