A few days ago, my son Michael had the privilege of being the Master of Ceremonies at the Veterans Day Ceremony at his middle school, Caddo Middle Magnet. He did an excellent job, and I am very proud of him. Why did he get picked to do it? Because the person organizing knew that he is the son of a Veteran that has given so much for our country.
Today is Veteran’s Day, and my sons are sans their dad. He’s not deployed this time, but away for training that he needs to transition to a new job in his full-time Army National Guard position. He’s been a full-timer since about one month before 9/11. Since then he has deployed two times, been to several schools and trainings, and been away quite a lot due to his job obligations. My sons have come to terms with the fact that dad won’t be here for some birthdays and important holidays.
Our boys have learned the fine art of how to Skype with dad, how to deal with an emotional mom, how to make their own fish sticks or hot dogs for dinner when said mom just wants to sit on the couch and watch re-runs of The Golden Girls when having her own personal pity party, and how to be just a little more resilient to some things in life that a lot of kids their age don’t have to deal with. They’ve also learned how to get ready for an awesome day: Dad coming home. They know how to help in getting the house clean and ready, make welcome home posters, make chocolate chip cookies, rake the yard, and make the best of a great situation.
Last year, their dad was deployed for the entire year. The boys, especially Michael, were very nervous the entire time. Sammy was four and Michael was six the first time he deployed, so Michael remembers the events better than Sammy does. Their dad had trained in country for six months, then was in Iraq for six months before he was badly injured by a vehicle-bourne improvised explosive device (VBIED) and came home earlier than the rest of his unit. It was a tough time; he had to recuperate and we had to deal with explaining it all to our young children. It was pretty funny when he came home, all wrapped in bandages and looking pretty rough, when Sammy, only four years old, said, “No offense Daddy, but you look…kind of ugly.” We still crack up about that every time we talk about it.
It’s extremely heartwarming to see the average citizen walk up to a member of the Armed Forces that is in uniform, simply shake their hand and say, “Thank you for your service.” It means a lot to the families and friends of Veterans and currently activated military members, that the sacrifices of our military are appreciated not just today, but everyday.