Today is the 239th birthday of the Marine Corps and tomorrow is Veterans Day. These two events along with some recent questions I have seen on military spouse social media pages prompted me to write this blog.
Over 29 years ago I married my handsome Marine. I think back to that day and try to remember what my expectations were. I do not think my expectations had anything to do with the military. My only thought that day was on the fact I was marrying my best friend and I hoped to live up to my wedding vows. Sure I knew I was marrying a Marine because there he stood in his dress whites looking very handsome. Maybe it was the fact that I was a military brat and had been surrounded by the military my whole life that I thought I was no different then any other bride. And I still feel that way. Sure we were packing up and moving to Ft Sill, OK in a few days and would not be going on a honeymoon, but that did not seem out of the ordinary!
It was probably more the voices of friends and family giving advice and asking questions that made our wedding a little different than my civilian girlfriends. I heard things like ” He is going to be gone a lot”, “What about your poor kids?”, “You are never going to get rich in the military”, and “What about your family won’t you miss them?” All questions I guess I had thought about but knew came with the territory.
Yes, he would probably be gone a lot and I never knew how lonely I would be until that first 6 month “float” . But I also did not know how strong I could be in that situation. But, I also had a purpose. Before my husband left I was given a list of spouses names and numbers and I was asked to call and check on these young ladies every now and then. My name was also on a list. So my loneliness had a purpose. Some of the women I met at our first duty station are still close friends. I also solved the loneliness problem with having five children. After that I some times wished I was the one deploying!! Yes, the goodbyes were hard but the hello’s were so worth it.
Oh and what about those five poor children? Well I have never thought poor children just as I have never thought my life as a military brat was a burden. My kids have not moved as often as some and it was probably hardest on the last two. My youngest son (child number 4) was at three high schools in four years. Was he happy about it? Heck no! But he adapted and I am sure had we not moved to Guam he would not have been and still be a rugby player. And I am pretty sure my two oldest are very glad we PCS’d to MacDill AFB. Had it not been for this move to Florida they may have not met their fiances! The hardest thing for me as a parent of military kids was leaving behind the middle daughter here in Tampa. We had orders to Guam her senior year of high school. Since she was attending Blake High School for the Performing Arts and was a music major we decided it was best for to stay behind with a family friend. I am pretty sure it was harder on me than her!!
Oh it is true you will never get rich being in the military. But as my hubby says “I did not join the Marines to be served, I joined to serve!” We did know we had benefits such as base housing , medical care and the commissary to help us make it. I am so grateful that we now have so many working on improving the life of our military kids and spouses, advocating to protect our benefits and thankful for the civilian community that thanks us in so many ways. It is a different world than when my Dad and Uncles came home from Vietnam. And with that I will have to say I never thought I would cry every time I hear the National Anthem or the Marine Corps hymn!!
For me surprisingly the hardest thing about being a military spouse was retirement. We have been retired for over a year and I am still trying to find my way. We have not found our forever home and really we are not retired just living the next chapter of our lives!
All of these things and more are what makes being a military spouse special. The lifetime friendships, the adventure, the places your civilian friends will never see and the love a man who loves his country so much he was willing to sacrifice his life. Are you a military spouse with a story to share? I would love to hear your thoughts. Share your thoughts here in the comments section or on teh MacDill Happenings Facebook page.
Happy Birthday Marines and a very happy Veteran’s Day to all of you! Semper Fi!
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