Thursday, October 11, 2007
This is what it's all about
I truly meant to blog about the very emotional homecoming of Pete's unit within a day or two of when they came home, but here it is a month later...no time like the present, right? I'll leave out the twenty or so pictures, though!
The picture above was taken as the 1st Armored Division Band played to pass the time between when "our" guys' buses arrived and when they actually marched across the field to their awaiting families. It was totally unstaged, I promise. And yes, my kids do naturally now find it quite natural to stand either at attention or parade rest. Part and parcel of this whole Army family gig, I'm afraid, but I won't apologize for it by any means. Why? Because my children are learning patriotism and respect for our country...and if that means they pick up on a little military protocol, well that's just gravy!
This homecoming was a bit odd for us. It was the first time WE weren't welcoming a soldier home, and it gave us an interesting perspective. We were able to sit back and just take everything in. We were able to feel the pride swelling in our hearts for our soldiers without fitfully searching the crowd for our own. We were able to really take full notice of the outpouring of love that surrounded us. And it was WONDERFUL! It was the blissful moment where all political opinion about war and our place in this world and the global responsibilities our nation has just disappeared. This was just a group of people who accomplished their mission and returned home to their families after a VERY long separation. Nobody on that field cared about anything other than their soldier.
Being a military family is not easy. Being an Army wife is HARD work. It isn't just about "standing by your man". Being an Army wife means that you have to balance being a single parent with having a husband out there....somewhere....who will come home and want to fit back into your life. It means you have to know how to work well without him for Lord knows how long, but be able to know how to step aside and let him take the lead the moment he's back at home. It means you need to know just about as much about how the military works as your husband does, and you have to be able to accept insecurity as a way of life. It means you can't really have true roots, because as we all say, "Home is where the Army sends us", but your heart is in five or six other places with your best friends, your family, and a deployed or "in the field" hubby. It means you don't really get to paint your living room.
And best of all, it means that one day when the stress has gone on for far too long and the loneliness has overtaken you to the point of numbness, you will stand on a field with hundreds of other family members and feel your heart leap from your chest as a military band plays Stars and Stripes Forever and you see that huge formation of green and brown march toward you. It means you stand tall and proud, because the soldiers on that field are yours.
Welcome Home, 596th Maintenance! We missed you!