Updated: Aug 29, 2021
My heart is absolutely broken for our soldiers. I have a deep, dark cavern around my heart, an ache for their families, and I am grieving for our troops.
Let me tell you why.
I grew up an army brat. Through and through. I moved nearly every year of my life until high school, lived on army posts, and met more people in my first 15 years of life than the normal human ought to.
And an army post is where I feel normal. If you haven't experienced military life, here is a smidge of what it looked like for me.
In 3rd grade, we lived in Germany on a wee farm. Living in Europe allowed me the opportunity to explore castles, gardens and gain international experiences. I learned how to dig for tadpoles and what a lamb's tail looks like when it falls off (yes, sheep are born with long tails). I learned to speak German and make a killer German potato salad.
In 5th grade, we lived on Ft. Bliss, TX, which is a huge post. I enjoyed watching parades of soldiers marching in unison, uniformly saluting commanders, and hearing cannons explode daily as soldiers trained to protect you and me. It felt normal to wave at MP's as we passed through our military post check points, our sanctuary.
In 7th grade, we moved to Carlisle Barracks, PA where we stayed until my high school graduation. Carlisle Barracks is home to the Unites States Army War College. My father, a colonel, along with a number of other officers, taught fellow officers how to command battalions and how to lead in times of war.
Carlisle Barracks was a unique military post. Officers brought their families in for 10 months- the officers' school year. Each summer I watched a fleet of moving vans come in, unload entire households, saw wives (not being discriminatory here- I can't remember any husbands/dads who weren't soldiers) and children frantically unpack before school started and settle in to their new homes.
I was always excited to see who my new friends would be each summer. Who was going to be in my classes? Would I recognize anyone from my previous homes?
Even as kids, we knew we needed to take advantage of the short time we had with each other and we bonded promptly at the pool or running around the post which was safe and small.
We enjoyed similar lives. And there were a lot of kids on post, mostly high school age, that came each year.
We had similar curfews. Every evening, Taps played over the intercoms on the base. Typically, our curfew was the final note of Taps. When the I heard the first note of Taps played, I remember hauling my feet as fast as they could to get to the door of my house.
We had a "teen club" on post for our entertainment on weekend nights. In 10th grade, I remember teasing and spraying my big bangs (80's...) with one of my dearest friends, Micki, who left after her 10 months. We blared the song, The Warrior, and sang at the top of our lungs as we prepared for our big night at the club, which included break dancing and trying to catch the eye of whoever my crush was on that week.
And then, there were those of us kids who stayed every year because our fathers were on staff. Kris, Lara, and Nicole were my partners in crime and we tested our parents' patience until graduation. Kari and Jenny kept me out of too much trouble with their gentle wisdom. We always supported each other, and had an invisible, unspoken bond that only being a military brat could create.
(My high school graduation, 1987... note the big bangs.)
Finally, at the end of each school year, 10 months later, I watched empty moving vans return and in 2 days, pack entire homes so families could continue on to the next mission.
I spent my entire youth honoring the faithful dedication of families supporting soldiers. And to watch the debacle in Afghanistan is heart-wrenching on so many human levels.
To the veterans who fought, I can't imagine your frustration as you watch your hard work destroyed. It is not just a job you completed- you nearly LOST YOUR LIFE every single day you were there to fight for the freedom and safety of the Afghan people.
To the families who supported soldiers as they tolerated 6 months or longer deployments, I can't begin to understand the raw anger you feel wondering if that lost time was justifiable.
To the courageous mothers who have released their children to fight for our country, and to those mothers who have children (soldiers) in Afghanistan, I'm sure no words can clearly communicate your numerous fears. I pray for your hearts to find peace.
To my friends who are in the military and to those I went to high school with, I honor your dedication to our country. If you joined the military after being a military brat, you know the cost it takes to protect my kids and me. I see you.
I have raised my children to have the utmost respect for soldiers and our military. We pray for you and your families. I say this with humble gratitude and I am so, so sorry we are in this desperate situation.
"We are the home of the free, because of the brave ... "