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.
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.
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.
Twenty-seven years later I can say without a single regret that I am honored to be a military wife. To support my husband throughout his military career has been both a calling and a privilege. It 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.
- Commitment to God, country, and duty.
- Integrity and leadership.
- Camaraderie and faithfulness.
- Sacrifice and honor.
- Courage and strength.
- Faithfulness and loyalty.
These are just of 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.
Today, I know that I’m not alone in gratitude for those who have served our country through military service.
A few years ago, my husband retired.
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 hadn’t realized that somewhere deep inside, I had been holding my breath. For 24 years a faint white-noise hummed in my heart. A buried 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.
Too many 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. Join me in remembering with honor those who have sacrificed their lives serving our country.
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. 22 veterans die by suicide every day.
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.