This week I watched as total strangers lay to rest their fallen solider from a nearby town in our school district. They had a little girl a year older than our son. The soldier was in my brother in law’s unit. It hit way too close to home. The city lined a major highway when his body was driven to the airport on his way to Arlington National Cemetery. My two year old son and I were lined on that highway for 45 minutes before the three seconds he drove by us. While we were standing there, my son waving his flags telling everyone they were his daddy’s flags the entire time, we met some amazing people whose words touched me more than they’ll ever know. I saw the compassion in their expressions; I felt the empathy in their words. These people were strangers. They did not know me, or my son, my husband or our family. They did not know the soldier that was killed or his family, but they knew our pain was real.
This is part of our soldier’s jobs we don’t like to think about. I know I’ve certainly blocked the unknown out of my mind for the last ten months he’s been gone. It’s almost impossible to completely block those fears when you watch a fallen soldier drive by. When you hear the words of his wife, and his friends. His wife, like every wife I’ve ever met who lost their soldier said “He died doing what he loved, for a country he loved.” It’s incredible to me how strong wives really turn out to be. I know there are many times when I think to myself “How am I supposed to keep doing this without him?” That thought only lasts until I talk to him and I hear the satisfaction in his voice and the pride in his words when he talks about what he’s doing. That thought goes away when strangers on the side of a road, holding American flags tell me how much they appreciate what he does.
When I saw hundreds of people standing out there to support this soldier’s family during a time that many of us cannot fathom, I realized people do care. They do appreciate our sacrifices and it is worth it. They give us strength without even knowing. I think many times throughout this deployment I have thrown mini pity parties for myself and thought how horrible this is. That day I realized how amazing it really is and how big of an impact my husband truly is making. I gained back a sense of pride that day that I’ve lost sight of while missing my husband and waiting for his return.
When people say that our marriages are Army Strong, they couldn’t be more correct. However it should also be said that the wives of these Army Strong soldiers, are a whole different type of strong. Being an Army wife is much more rewarding than it is unsatisfying. However I think that sometimes throughout deployments we forget that. I’ve found myself getting discouraged for focusing on just wanting my husband home and not all the good things he’s doing and that he’s a part of, but that feeling always is remembered when I hear the pride in his voice, when I see and feel the appreciation in our community. It takes a different type of woman to be an army wife. She has to be selfless and a whole new meaning to the word Strong. She has to focus on the bigger picture. She has to remember that the year she’s missing her husband, is forever changing other people’s lives. There are things we have to do that hurt, and we spend a great deal of time missing our other halves and being single parents, but in the end every wife of a soldier knows we wouldn’t change it for the world because our husbands are making a difference.