I’ve always loved Independence Day.
What is better than a holiday of free candy being chucked at you from the street and playing with matches?
My fanatical Fourth fervor also stems from the fact that I am a big fan of independence. As I’ve mentioned before, my first uttered full sentence was, “Me do it!” But just because I think I can do everything myself doesn’t mean that I should, or that the end results of my independent efforts are productive.
While I live in a delusion of being independent, there is someone I know who truly is and has had to be throughout her life, my sister—an army wife.
In her 22 years of marriage to a soldier she’s moved her family over a dozen times. Most of those moves she’s had to organize, prepare and accomplish by herself. For some reason the military has this perpetual glitch in their scheduling where the soldier is required to report to his next assignment weeks or months before housing is available for his family.
One of these moves my sister had to make sans-husband was a transatlantic move to Europe where this brave mother took four small children through three international airports over the course of twenty hours of flights and layovers. While living an ocean away from the help of family, she gave birth to her fifth child while her husband was serving a tour of duty in Iraq for 15 months. She found out she was expecting her sixth child just before her husband had to go to Washington D.C. for a three-month training course, leaving her to “man the fort” with five children during that first nauseating trimester.
Over the years, most of her homes have been military housing of duplexes and digs with limited space and storage for a large family. Yet, every place she’s lived she’s made a beautiful and comfortable home. She hangs pictures on the walls and plants flowers in the yard even though she knows each stay is temporary.
Wherever she’s lived she’s gotten involved in the community and made a point of taking her family to see the sights and soak in the culture of the area, whether it’s a county auction in upstate New York or the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Many of these trips have been just her and the kids since her husband is often away on duty.
Her heroic efforts in making the best of her situation are represented in her children. They are cultured, friendly, flexible and responsible. They make friends easily and have seen more of the world in their childhood than most people will ever see in a lifetime. They are used to packing and unpacking, saying hard good-byes and awkward hellos, living out of suitcases and connecting with their father over Skype.
My brother-in-law wears the uniform, but my sister—and all military wives—deserves a medal for being the steady, strong and independent support behind a military man.
When I look at all she does to support a soldier and raise a family in the military, I don’t know if would have been brave enough to say, “Me do it.”