So today is officially Military Spouse Appreciation Day, and it really is an official day. Military Spouse Day was first proclaimed by President Ronald Reagan on May 23, 1984 and every year since then it’s been celebrated on the Friday before Mother’s Day. Here’s this year’s White House proclamation about it.
A snippet: “Our military spouses are a vital part of communities across America and around the world. We know them as our neighbors and friends, colleagues and coaches, teachers and nurses. They move from duty station to duty station, picking up their families and careers whenever their country asks. They keep their households running while dealing with the strain of deployment. They support our wounded warriors, preserve the legacies of our fallen, and find ways to give back to our country day after day.”
Of course, the date chosen for this is no accident. It falls in the same month as Memorial Day and just before Mother’s Day, because many (dare I say, most?) military spouses are women and mothers. But that day doesn’t seem quite so appropriate anymore, not since yesterday, when Jeremy Hilton was named Military Spouse of the Year, the first time a male spouse (and stay-at-home dad) has received the award. Jeremy, an Air Force spouse and a Navy veteran himself, is well-deserving of the honor and will definitely do us all proud.
I got a special honor today. Myself and three other Army wives, Teresa Sicinski, Catherine Woyee-Jones and Malinda Cox, were honored by Sen. Kay Hagan during a ceremony at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville for the volunteer work we’ve done on behalf of military families. There were many, many other military spouses who could (and should) have also been honored and I’m extremely flattered to have had the opportunity to represent my sisters, though — with Jeremy’s MSOY win — I suppose I need to start being gender neutral and say “family”.
The program from today’s event had this beautiful bit of prose, written by Petey Cox, the late wife of Col. (R) Jack Cox:
I am an Army wife … a member of that sisterhood of women who have had the courage to watch their men march into battle and strength to survive until they return. Our sorority knows no rank for we earn our membership with a marriage license, traveling over miles and nations to begin a new life with our soldier husbands.
Within days we turn a barren, echoing building into a home and though our quarters are white walled and unpapered, we decorate with the treasures of our travels for we shop the markets of the globe. Using hammer and nail, we tack our pictures to the wall and our roots to the floor as firmly as if we had lived there a lifetime. WE hold a family together by the boot straps and raise the best of the “brats,” remembering the motto: “Home is togetherness.”
Through experience we have learned to pack a suitcase, a car or hold baggage and live indefinitely from the contents therein. As Army wives, we soon realize the only good in “Good-bye” is the “Hello again.” For, as salesmen for freedom, our husbands are often on the road, leaving us behind for a week, a month or a year. During the separation we guard the homefront, existing till the homecoming.
Unlike our civilian counterparts we measure time not by age but by tours … married at Ft. Knox, a baby born at Ft. Belvoir, a promotion in Germany. We plant trees and never see them grow tall, work on projects that are completed long after our departure. We leave a part of ourselves at every stop.
Women of peace, we pray for a world in harmony, for the flag that leads our men into battle will also blanket them in death. Yet we are an optimistic group, thinking of the good and forgetting the bad, cherishing yesterday while anticipating tomorrow.
Never rich by monetary standards, our hearts are overflowing with a wealth of experiences common only to those united by the special tradition of military life. We pass on this legacy to every Army bride, welcoming her with outstretched arms, with love and friendship, from one sister to another, sharing in the bounty of our unique, fulfilling Army way of life.