|An open letter to the American people: As our country demonstrated a patriotic fervor that is normally only seen on the 4th of July, I decided to take advantage of the moment to climb up on a soapbox and speak out in support of our military (all branches) and their family members. As a veteran of the US Army who is married to a career soldier it has always been disheartening for me that the American public seldom gives little thought to those who serve their country. When American soldiers died at the Beirut Embassy, had their lifeless bodies dragged through the streets of Somalia and were killed in the embassy bombings in Africa ... the American people let out a collective gasp at the horror but then, almost immediately, went on to live their lives as if nothing happened. Within a few days, the incidents were forgotten by the majority of free Americans and only the immediate family, friends of the soldiers and the military community continued to grieve. But on 9/11 when terrorists took civilian lives, the American people (along with the rest of the world) was outraged, albeit rightfully so, but I cant help wondering why the loss of civilian lives created so much more of an outrage than the loss of the lives of soldiers who serve and protect their country on a daily basis. On 7 October 2001, we made the first military strike in Afghanistan and the President said that it is a "war" that may continue for years -- and it has -- and now we have moved into Iraq. He said that we are prepared to sacrifice whatever it takes to eliminate terrorism in the world. To soldiers and their families this translates to mean that we should, once again, be prepared to pay the ultimate price for world peace. We accept this. We understand this. We know what the "ultimate price for world peace" means. The purpose of this letter is to remind the American people what that means. Soldiers were once civilians. In addition to being soldiers, they are sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers too. We should thank God every day that, when necessary, they are willing to die for their country so we can live free. You can send a letter to any soldier, from any branch of service, any where in the world from the this website ... and the best part is that it doesnt cost a thing -- just a moment of your time -- to say "thank you" to our soldiers.|
Spouses and family members serve too.
I would like to say something about those who have been "drafted" into the military by a spouse or parent. Their sacrifices frequently go unnoticed, and the importance of their contribution is often overlooked or taken for granted.
Family support of the military member is critical to his or her performance. Contrary to the belief that soldiers are only as good as their leaders, the truth of the matter is that the soldier is only as good as the people who support him or her in their everyday life.
We lived on an Army post. Every morning at 0700 hours we were awakened to the sound of reveille. At 1700 every day a cannon fired which signaled the end of the work day. At 2300 every evening we were serenaded by Taps. Every house on our street flew an American flag, not just on flag day, but every day.
Patriotism isn't something we celebrate only on the Fourth of July, it is a way of life for us. In every house on every post lives the spouse and family members of a soldier, but the soldiers aren't always there. They are in Bosnia, Saudi, Korea, Iraq or any one of a hundred other countries throughout the world where they might be needed, and we are left to "hold down the fort".
I have a plaque that says, "Army wife - toughest job in the Army." This is an accurate description of all military family members of all branches. I am not just speculating on this, I speak from experience. I am a military spouse who is also an Army veteran. It was much easier being a soldier than it is being the family member of a soldier.
I volunteered to be in the Army. It was what I wanted to do. I was drafted as a military dependant, and there are times when it is not what I want at all. Soldiers choose to live this lifestyle, but the family members don't.
This fact does not diminish the sacrifices that family members are required to make for the sake of their country. They must be resourceful, capable, independent, and if you don't have at least a little bit of gypsy in your soul, the nomadic lifestyle you are forced to live can be devastating.
Military dependents are anything but dependent. They are a uniquely adaptable group of talented individuals from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. They are required to be ambassadors to the world in the truest sense of the word, and they do, as a whole, represent their country well.
We may be reluctant patriots, but we serve judiciously, and we serve with pride.
Cheryl Harvey Hill, Military Spouse and Veteran - WAC/RA/ARNG
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