Monday will be only the second Veteran’s Day in thirty-one years that I haven’t either been in uniform or married to a man in uniform. And it’s only over the past two years since dh (dear hubby!) retired from the Navy that I’ve been able to take a step back and appreciate what a gift it was to serve our great nation. From my first day of Plebe Summer on a hot July day in 1982 until our small, intimate retirement ceremony for Steve at The Army War College in Carlisle, PA (yes, my navy guy served his last year at an army post), it’s all been a gift.
It didn’t always feel like a gift, a blessing. As much as I always wanted to serve my country since at least high school if not earlier, following one’s dreams comes at a price. I didn’t have college summers to get a “real” job and play during off-hours. When dh and I married three days after my graduation (did we really do that, that young?) we had a month or so together until we faced months, possibly years of separation. Fortunately the navy was always good to us as far as co-location is concerned. Because of my active-duty training and deployment schedules, it was my experience that a lot of my emotional maturation took a back seat until I was in a more “regular” environment, the Naval Post Graduate School. Besides earning another degree courtesy of the navy, I was able to make life-long friends and take a hard look at my life–what did I want out of it?
For me the answer was clear: I wanted to have a family and write. I was lucky–I was able to keep serving our country as a navy spouse, since dh had found his calling (let’s just say he knew he wanted to Fly Navy since he was three years old) while having our babies and pursuing my writing career.
When the time was right I resigned my commission and became the “stability” factor for our family, most importantly, our children. Scary thought, right? Yet I had as much fun as they did. When Dad was off on deployment, meals became simpler as did our routine. It was the only way to maintain the energy level needed to raise two active kiddos while Dad was away. I was always grateful I was able to be home with the kids, writing in the wee hours of the morning or late at night after they were asleep. I lived one dream–having a family–while going after another–being a published author.
Again, it wasn’t always easy to be thankful. DH was deployed on 9-11, and I’ll never forget our first phone conversation and having to confirm that yes, he’d heard right, we’d lost friends. During the war dh was interviewed on CNN in-flight, and I learned to hold my breath and pray at the same time. Explaining war to young children–can anyone?
The best part of being a navy family was of course the wonderful places we lived, and the incredible people we’ve met. Our last tour in Moscow, Russia, we met many public officials and even celebrities. And yes, we really did meet the President of the United States. I blogged about it, have photos of it, and still people ask me if it really happened. Or maybe that’s my elementary-girl self asking if it really happened. What all of it has done has allowed my children to be informed, globally-oriented kids who will make a much larger impression in their world than I ever have. This was all made possible because dh continued to serve his country.
This Veterans Day I am so grateful for those who serve, who have served, and for the small contribution I’ve been able to make.
Leave a comment by November 11 and be entered to win a copy of Navy Orders or Navy Rules–your choice! I’ll pick one winner at random. (North America only. I’m sorry to my dear international friends but postage costs and different mailing systems make overseas mailings cost prohibitive).
12 Comments on “Flashback Friday: A Veteran's Gratitude Check”
Thanks for writing this, it’s nice to know that a place of pure gratitude can be reached. The day to day of being a Navy wife can really bog me down. However, I find that as we go further down this path called Navy life, the farther I’m willing to continue to walk.
Thank you to all that have served! I’m grateful for each and every one of you, especially my husband.
My gratitude is existential. I am here. Although my father did not serve abroad in World War II, he suffered a service related disability and thereafter was hospitalized at the Valley Forge Veterans
Hospital. His career ended but his pride was consistent.
I know people didn’t talk about these things in those days, but I think he got some weekend passes. I arrived.
Recalling his display of the flag on veteran’s day and the fourth of july is bringing tears to my eyes right now. Thanks for letting me share.
Hello from a former shipmate! I recall fondly our time together and only hope that my mentoring was a positive influence on you – it was either that or my sense of humor that helped you keep your perspective. On the Veterans’ Day, I’ll give thanks to all who served and are serving. Thank you and Steve for your service. Go Navy! Barb
Thanks Geri. It’s always great when people remember Veteran’s Day. My husband served in the Army during Vietnam and many years afterwards as an officer in the reserves, and my son and his wife served in the Air Force. We’ve all lost friends who were veterans and find it nice to remember them for their service.
Thank you to you and your husband for serving our country.
Great post, Geri! Thank you for your service and your husband’s!
My father is a Vietnam Veteran, my maternal grandfather was a World War One vet, and my paternal grandfather was a WWII vet. So Monday is a special day for my family as well.
I respect you so much. Not only are you an amazing writer who is living the dream, but you went to the Naval Academy and earned your commission. How many women can say that?
Thinking of you and grateful for your service, Geri.
Happy Veteran’s Day Geri! I have very fond memories of our times together in Bermuda and Monterey. Congratulations on your writing success. xxoo Mary Jo
Geri, Congratulations on all your success! My son is in the Army and going in to year 15; military life is not for everyone but for those who do it can have long lasting rewards. I’d like to be a published romance writer soon and every success for one is a success for all. Never stop writing and the fans will never stop reading. 🙂 Chris
As the daughter, wife and sister of men who were in various services, I admire you and all the people who serve in the armed forces. My undying thanks to you all for being there for those of us who cannot.
I was an Army brat, and now I am a Blue Star mother, married to a former AirForce C-130 pilot. When my son, now an Army Lt.Colonel, was commissioned, his uncle, my brother (Army Major, Ret.)administered the oath. His grandfather, (Army Master Sargeant, Ret.)delivered the new “Butter Bar” his first salute. Looking on in equal pride was his other grandfather, who served in WWII on the USS Plunkett. All this is to express how deeply Veteran’s Day is ingrained in my family. We bleed Red White and Blue and will always honor the service, commitment, and love of country that our military personnel demonstrate each and every day. Huah!
Thank you for your service. I have three children and a son-in-law in the military. My sons have both completed multiple deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan. My daughter and her husband are both Navy.
I am so very proud of all of them and the sacrifices they have made as well as the sacrifices their families have made.
Congrats to Vicki, you’re the winner of signed copy of Navy Orders or Navy Rules–your choice. Thank you everyone for your beautiful comments and tributes.
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