4 years ago I was a young 25-year-old woman. I had just started my new adventure of living in Alaska. I was teaching an exuberant group of 25 5th and 6th grade students. I was making new friends, and really loving life. Some of these new friends happened to be in the US Air Force.
In Anchorage, AK, there are 2 military bases-Elmendorf Air Force Base and Eilson Army Post. Alaska is full of active duty military families, as well as many retired military families. Needless to say, Veteran's Day is a big deal up there.
To honor this holiday in my classroom, I decided to ask one of my Air Force friends, Andy, to come in to speak to my class. He asked if he could bring a friend along to help out, and I thought that was a great idea. On November 11, Andy and his good friend Ted showed up in their full military BDUs (camouflage gear, etc.) to teach my class about military life. They put on an exciting presentation and my kids had a blast. I sat in the back with a teacher-friend of mine and giggled about Andy's really cute friend. I never believed what they said about a man in a uniform, but I understood what was meant that day.
Ted was a 21-year-old "boy". I thought he was so cute and was in GREAT shape. We became friends. I had a little crush on him. I figured that this guy, only 21 years old, would just be a really fun guy to date, get to know, and hang around with. I knew he wouldn't want a commitment, (who would at that age?) so it was harmless. Little did I know the mind of that young man...
2 weeks later, before our first date, Ted went home to St. Louis for Thanksgiving. While there, he met up with a good friend from high school. "Rob," Ted declared, "I met the girl I am going to marry."
After a lot of convincing (sorry sweetheart!) I ended up agreeing with him, and the rest is history.
Marrying a man in the military brought many things close to home. Although he was honorably discharged 4 months after our wedding, he is still an inactive-duty airman until December 2011. Every time I see a commercial for the military, hear a story of a brave man or woman injured in the line of duty, or even hear the National Anthem, I think about Ted. I think about how we could've been and still could be affected. He will never call himself a veteran. Ted has never served over-seas. He has never set foot on a war-zone. I have never had to live one day without him while he was deployed. But he still served honorably and faithfully. He could be called back without any notice at anytime. It could be him over there tomorrow.
I am so grateful for the men and women who have chosen to serve our great country. Many have given their lives, and most will never be the same. Whether or not I agree with our position in the war, we still have families forever altered by the repercussions of this war. I am grateful for our vets, and feel so strongly about what they stand for. Veteran's Day helps me remember.