July is a month filled with reminders of our freedom and how blessed we are to live in a country that fosters it. As a former military kid, I’ve experienced the price of this freedom first-hand, and I’ve even paid for a little bit of it myself. Let me explain…
Looking back at some of my earliest childhood memories, I see my mom and my grandparents, but not my dad. That’s because he was deployed to parts unknown protecting the country he loved.
I never once resented him for that, nor would I trade the military life for anything.
I don’t ever remember being scared he wouldn’t come home.
I’m sure my mom had many of those moments. For most deployments, we had no idea where my dad was and sometimes we didn’t know when he would get to come home. She had to take care of me by herself and try not to worry about her husband’s safety.
I’d say she paid a large sum for your freedom and mine.
My payment came in the form of emotional turmoil after my father returned from deployment. He would come home, things would be great for a day or two, and then everything would explode.
I remember my parents yelling and screaming at each other.
I remember slamming doors and silence for days.
I remember feeling like the rug of my life had been ripped out from under me.
Then, with a smile and a wave, he would be gone and life would be back to “normal” again. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized none of that should’ve been normal.
The truth is, that is the norm for a lot of military families.
You get to see the emotional beauty of the homecomings. I’m sure you’ve shed a few tears watching those amazing videos. I know I have.
But what you don’t see is how hard it is for families to reconnect and reintegrate after the homecoming is over.
Maybe the family left on the homefront eats dinner at 7pm, but when the soldier left, everyone ate at five. It seems so minor, but trust me when I say it’s not. Even the smallest things can become fights and can cause extreme tension.
My dad would be gone for six, eight, ten months and when he came home, everyone was different.
He’d seen things that I can’t imagine. But at home, life had to go on, and sometimes it was hard for him to catch-up.
My dad put his life on the line for our freedom.
My mom raised me almost on her own for years, and sacrificed her husband for our freedom.
Both of them chose that life. I just happened to be born into it. I sacrificed normalcy for freedom, and if I could choose to change that, I never would.
The military life isn’t an easy one. So thank a soldier, thank a spouse, and thank a kid. And proudly place your hand over your heart and stand for the national anthem, because more than the soldiers paid the price for freedom.