The Biggest Heroes of Them All
Whether deployed or working in the states, the men and women of the US Armed Forces are our heroes, because they give up so many things in order to serve this country. Behind some of those men and women are spouses who also make painful sacrifices. There is no denying that a military life also comes with benefits, like medical care and the opportunity to travel. On the other hand, whenever I'm holding my daughter who is crying because her father has to work overseas or because yet another one of her very best friends is moving far away, I can't help but think that the children of the US Armed Forces must be the biggest heroes of them all.
Everyone has seen those images and of soldiers returning home and families reuniting, but what doesn't get covered a lot are the regular everyday sacrifices that military families face whether or not they're going through a deployment. Military families have to relocate their entire lives every couple of years, a bit longer if they're lucky. It makes it hard for young children to find a place to call home, and with each move, there are stresses on younger children who don't fully understand. I remember when my eldest daughter was a toddler, and we were moving from Kansas to Texas, she was constantly worrying about what we would bring with us. Everyday it was a new question like, "Can we take my bed?", "Am I allowed to bring my toys?", "Are they nice where we're moving to?", "Will I have friends?" Then when my youngest daughter was a toddler and we drove across the country, every time we stopped at a gas station or for food, she'd become frantic if she lost site of me for even a second. She didn't seem to understand that she was coming with us.
It gets easier after a few years. You learn how to turn any house into a home, and the children learn how to make new friends quickly. Eventually you end up staying at a duty station for at least 4-5 years if you're lucky. The holidays become easier even though you can't always see family. What never gets easier for my daughter is saying goodbye to friends. The last time one of her friends moved away, she said something to the effect of, "Why make more friends here, they're just going to move away too, or we'll have to move away." But since then, she has learned to just enjoy people while she can and not let it get her down. She is full aware that she has plenty to be grateful for. Some children unfortunately don't get to reunite with their parents after a deployment; not everyone makes it home.
I'm thankful that my daughter still has a great attitude towards the military and is just as thankful as I am that we got to travel and enjoy the other benefits it has to offer. Each day at 5pm on the dot there is a flag folding ceremony at headquarters on base. Soldiers carefully fold the American flag that flies over our base, and as this ceremony goes on, civilians and soldiers alike are to stop what they're doing if they're outside, in their cars or on the sidewalk, and salute our flag. Everytime we here the signal for the flag folding ceremony, both of my daughters immediately stop whatever they're doing, they stand tall and salute, and double check to make sure I'm doing it too. They are my little heroes.