Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Difference

Title: Military spouses 9/1/2001
The Difference
by retired: Lt. Gen. Edward J. Heinz

Over the years, I've talked a lot about military spouses ... how special they are and the price they pay for freedom, too. The funny thing about it is most military spouses don't consider themselves different from other spouses.

They do what they have to do, bound together not by blood or merely friendship, but with a shared spirit whose origin is in the very essence of what love truly is. Is there truly a difference? I think there is. You have to decide for yourself.

Other spouses get married and look forward to building equity in a home and putting down family roots. Military spouses get married and know they'll live in base housing or rent, and their roots must be short so they can be transplanted frequently.

Other spouses decorate a home with flair and personality that will last a lifetime. Military spouses decorate a home with flair tempered with the knowledge that no two base houses have the same size windows or same size rooms. Curtains have to be flexible and multiple sets are a plus. Furniture must fit like puzzle pieces.

Other spouses have living rooms that are immaculate and seldom used. Military spouses have immaculate living room-dining room combos. The coffee table got a scratch or two moving from Germany, but it still looks pretty good.

Other spouses say goodbye to their spouse for a business trip and know they won't see them for a week. They are lonely, but can survive. Military spouses say goodbye to their deploying spouse and know they won't see them for months, or for a remote, a year. They are lonely, but will survive.

Other spouses, when a washer hose blows off, call Maytag and then write a check out for getting the hose reconnected. Military spouses will cut the water off and fix it themselves.

Other spouses get used to saying hello to friends they see all the time. Military spouses get used to saying goodbye to friends made the last two years.

Other spouses worry about whether their child will be class president next year. Military spouses worry about whether their child will be accepted in yet another new school next year.

Other spouses can count on spouse participation in special events .. birthdays, anniversaries, concerts, football games, graduation, and even the birth of a child. Military spouses only count on each other; because they realize that the Flag has to come first if freedom is to survive. It has to be that way.

Other spouses put up yellow ribbons when the troops are imperiled across the globe and take them down when the troops come home. Military spouses wear yellow ribbons around their hearts and they never go away.

Other spouses worry about being late for mom's Thanksgiving dinner. Military spouses worry about getting back from Japan in time for dad's funeral.

And the television program showing an elderly lady putting a card down in front of a long, black wall that has names on it touches other spouses. The card simply says 'Happy Birthday, Sweetheart. You would have been 60 today.' A military spouse is the one with the card. And the wall is the Vietnam Memorial.

I would never say military spouses are better or worse than other spouses are. But I will say there is a difference.

And I will say that our country asks more of military spouses than is asked of other spouses. And I will say, without hesitation, that military spouses pay just as high a price for freedom as do their active duty husbands or wives.

Perhaps the price they pay is even higher. Dying in service to our country isn't near as hard as loving someone who has died in service to our country, and having to live without them.

God bless our military spouses for all they freely give. And God bless America

To learn more about the Service Flag pictured above just click on it.


Rich & Mel said...

What a GREAT tribute. You nailed it on the head. Even as a reservist where we are settled in civilian life and play military once a month, the spouse still has to deal with the same issues. I don't know what I would do with Mel's support!!

I had to laugh at the ones about base housing. If you have never been there, then it's not funny. Those of us who have had sheets hanging above the windows until we got curtains to fit know all about that.


Alycia said...

I love this tribute!! I have been so touched by all you have posted for the military this week....thank you. I should have a permanent link at the top of my blog that says..."go to 50 Toes!!" haha. I agree with the above comments about the sheets...kind of funny...but actually true when you first move in! Also, I'm happy you figured out the linking. I am new to this too and not sure what the proper etiquette is. I was starting to ask people, but then saw they were linking to me so I guessed it was okay to just link if it is somewhere you like to visit. I'm glad you like to visit my blog too! Have a great weekend...I check in daily with you blog and love to see what you are up to. Hopefully no more storms for you!

Talk to you again soon!