Memorial Day is for honoring our fallen military members. The values and experience of military service have shaped our family in countless ways. This Memorial Day I am honored to be a military wife as we honor all who have served.
I never planned to be a military wife.
“Did I ever tell you that I want to go into the Marine Corps?” I was shocked silent. I had no words to respond to the young man I was dating.
Little did I know that this question was God’s way of introducing major directional change. This startling question came from Mark, a fella I’d been dating for a just a few months.
All my if-this-works-out daydreams had never covered even a thought of active duty military life. Though my dad served in the Navy in World War II, I knew nothing of military life.
And I didn’t want to.
I wanted to stay put in one place and live a predictable life. I had no real-time context for military life and the journey of a military wife.
Was this guy going to suddenly turn into Rambo?
“Are you going to get a tattoo,” was the first thought that came to my mind as I tried to envision my guy as a Marine. All I could think of was the worst that Hollywood movies had to offer.
I wasn’t quite sure about this whole military service thing. A few months later, while my fella was gritting it out in OCS, Officer’s Candidate School, a co-worker asked if we were talking about marriage.
“I don’t know. He’s joined the Marine Corps.” I said this like he had a disease. My co-worker reminded me that I would be marrying the man, not the job.
“I don’t think that’s true with the Marine Corps. If I marry this man, I am also marrying into the Marine Corps and all that entails.”
Welcome to the military.
Time passed, and my once-civilian boyfriend became my lean-and-green Marine husband. I’ll never forget the swordsman at our wedding who whacked me on my backside with a drill-instructor-firm, “Welcome to the Marine Corps, Mrs. Harrington!”
This was the first time I was addressed by my new name.
Being a military wife is a calling and a blessing.
Thirty years later I can say without a single regret that I am honored to be a military wife. Being a military wife has been both a calling and a privilege as I have supported my husband throughout his military. Military life has shaped our family life in countless ways. I wouldn’t trade this life of honor, sacrifice, and service.
We are all better for it.
The values of a military family.
- Commitment to God, country, and duty.
- Integrity and leadership.
- Camaraderie and faithfulness.
- Sacrifice and honor.
- Courage and strength.
- Faithfulness and loyalty.
These are just a few of the core values that permeate and sustain the military family. Though I may have been a reluctant military girlfriend, I am so proud of my husband and all that he has given to both our nation and our family.
Honoring the fallen on Memorial Day.
Today, I know that I’m not alone in gratitude for those who given their lives in service to our country.
Several years ago, my husband retired. Maybe Memorial Day seems like a strange time to reflect on military retirement. But here is a personal glimpse of the fear of loss that is part of the military wife experience.
As they placed the folded flag into his hands, I exhaled a soul-sigh of relief that he had survived 24 years of service healthy and whole. I have a deep gratitude that my Marine survived deployments, training exercises, and wartime service.
I hadn’t realized that somewhere deep inside, I had been holding my breath. For 24 years a faint white-noise hummed in my heart. An often ignored fear of what could happen if…
I know through personal experience many times over that too many who serve in our military do not come home. I have mourned with military wives who receive a flag with grief of untimely loss rather than the joy of celebration. I am currently walking alongside a dear friend who have also lost her Marine after a long battle with cancer due to exposure to toxic environments in military service.
We also know friends who have sustained physical and emotional wounds. The numbers of service members who suffer from PTSD isn’t fully documented as many are hesitant to seek help. I know more friends than I can count who have been impacted by PTSD. In 2019, “the rate of suicide among active-duty troops was 25.9 per 100,000 troops,” and according to the Military Times, “Military suicides have increased by as much as 20 percent this year compared to the same period in 2019,”
Too many military veterans do not have the opportunity to celebrate retirement with family and friends. My heart breaks for each one of these families both past and present.
These are the ones who are on my heart today.
Please join me in remembering those who have sacrificed their lives serving our country.
A military quote that rings in my heart is this truth: We are home of the free because of the brave. This Memorial Day, let us remember the importance and sacrifice of our nation’s military members.
We all owe a debt of gratitude, honor, and respect for the brave men and women who have given the great sacrifice of life to protect our nation. These are the ones we honor with grateful hearts today.
Do you have a military member you honor today? Leave a comment as a way to share your gratitude.
When this post was originally written, I had no idea that God would give me an opportunity to help create a vibrant ministry for military women and wives.
About Planting Roots: Strength to Thrive in Military Life
Military women and wives desire connection, stability, hope, and joy. Dealing with multiple moves, frequent deployments, and questions regarding careers, we still must continue to manage careers, develop relationships, build marriages, and raise children. Usually far from family, these challenges can seem insurmountable to accomplish on our own and finding what we need almost impossible.
Planting Roots has a vision that military women and wives will be deeply rooted in Christ, no matter where they find themselves. In order to fulfill this vision, our goal is to build a community providing connection and biblical foundation, challenging each other to find our stability in Christ and His purpose for us in the places we are planted.