There are lots of things I am and tons of things that I am not. There are certainly things I would like to be and, most definitely, things I wouldn’t want to be.
I am a daughter, sister, wife, mommy, friend. I am a hard worker, a good listener, list maker, list loser. I am a bargain hunter, pretty good cook, soother of hurt feelings, grudge carrier. I never said the things I am were all good.
My mom, Will and I watched the National Memorial Day Concert on television last weekend and this has been in my head, and on my heart, ever since.
I can only speak from a wife’s perspective – and break it down even one further, a reserve wife’s perspective, but I know how mind numbing it was to send my husband into a war zone. My prior active duty Marine turned one weekend a month, two weeks a year reserve husband was recalled to active duty. I’m not sure that it really, really hit me until April 2005 when I got the call where he told me their hooch had been hit by rocket fire and they weren’t there because they had gone shopping in the village they had convoyed to. He bought me a t-shirt. On another convoy, there was a dead Iraqi in the road with his arms bound behind him, eyes covered and was killed execution style. It was shortly after that, while working at the Haditha Dam, when Marines from Ohio were killed securing the area leading into the area where my husband and his comrades were. My heart broke. Again.
I am also a Blue Star Wife. My husband dons his uniform and trains to be called to serve when our Country needs him. As do his fellow soldiers. As do all of our service members. We are a Blue Star Family. The key words: Blue Star. Blue Star. The Blue Star(s) represents our immediate family member(s) who serve in the armed forces. When the family member is killed in the line of duty, the Blue Star is replaced by a Gold Star.
While watching the National Memorial Day Concert, Blythe Danner and A.J. Cook portrayed widows of American Soldiers and told the story of Taryn Davis, a 22 year-old war widow, who befriended a woman who lost her husband in the Vietnam war, which inspired the American Widow Project.
There are stories all over the internet about Gold Star wives (war widows). Some of them blog, like Mrs. P from A Little Pink in a World of Camo, whose star recently turned from Blue to Gold. There are many who don’t hold a place in the blogisphere. Their only piece of the internet is the online obituary or tributes written about their loved one. And if you happen to not find it and read it, they shrink into obscurity, but their loss is no less. Their grief is no less. Their hearts are no less broken. We just don’t hear about them.
I cry when I hear our National Anthem. I had a lump in my throat when we went to the Arizona Diamondbacks game last Memorial Day (2009) and Cindy McCain and their Navy Son, Jack, paused for the silent first pitch.
A fellow blogger, e-pal, and ARNG wife had this to say about Memorial Day, and I think she hit the nail on the head:
…contemplative this Memorial Day weekend and very VERY thankful that her husband’s recent deployment to Iraq didn’t provide a reason for anyone to include her in their Memorial Day sentiments.
While we were watching the concert Sunday night, and I watched the video of Gold Star wives, I uttered these words half silently, half out loud:
….of all the things I’m not, I’m most grateful to not be a war widow.
Half silently because I feel guilty for having that feeling. Half out loud because I’m truly grateful to not be included in Memorial Day sentiments.
Tomorrow I will attend visitation for a local Soldier, 22-years-old, who lost his life May 24 in Afghanistan as a representative of the Blue Star Mothers of North Carolina and as a Soldier’s wife. I will pay my respects to this hero who gave his life to something bigger than himself. I will stand tall and remain strong as I give gracious thanks to his family, who has now paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. I will be humbled by them and reminded, again, exactly how blessed I am that my star is still blue.