Sunday, August 19, 2012

Rough Men Stand Ready.

Six months ago, February 19th, I went to sleep. I had received an email around 11:30 PM from G.I. Joe thanking me for the birthday card I made him and saying he would call me when he could. That was basically it. Just a couple quick lines and an "I love you." I went to sleep keenly aware that he would be spending February 20th, his birthday, in harms way. I knew what was possible but I still didn't expect to get that awful phone call the next morning. But I laid my head down also knowing my babies were sleeping soundly, blissfully unaware of the gruesome reality of war. They are unaware, and lets face it even the wife is fairly removed from it, because of this:

"We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm." - Winston Churchill

As I look into my heart for the words to say on G.I. Joe's 6 month alive day I have 2 main emotions. One is contentment. And I'll get to that in another post this week. But I'm also deeply saddened by attitudes that are being promoted in the military spouse community. I guess its true misery loves company so it seems anytime a blog post or freelance article is posted where someone gets so brutally focused on the negative aspects of our life it practically goes viral. There is so much good to said for being honest and airing our struggles so that others know they don't have to be alone. However...I think on one issue we have taken it too far. 

Our nation's military and their family should be respected and supported from the outside. We do make sacrifices that others will never understand. But where has this sense of entitlement come from that has people crying out for civilians to become more in touch with war and the things we go through? What gives us the right to criticize those who simply don't have our experience and dare ask us a question that's slightly "wrong?" The search for understanding, respect and support is not something military families are cursed to struggle through. This is a human condition. Its a communication issue. Yes, sometimes people do put their foot in their mouth. But that's because they don't have the benefit of experience when it comes to our issues. You know something a military wife I'm capable of doing that exact same thing to a firefighter's wife. Or a policeman. Or someone who took care of a parent during a long battle with cancer. Anyone has the potential to misunderstand something from the outside. And as military families we are not above that. 

If the next thought is "well, yeah that's why I just wish they understood war" then please stop and think for a minute. Before we run to media with these campaigns or just start a whole new blog dedicated to inflicting the effects of war on the American public please remember WHY they do it. 

I'm sorry if someone will get offended by this but my husband fought and shed his blood so that the American public will remain untouched by war. That's like half the point, isn't it? They put on the uniform and go overseas to do things so that you don't have to bare the burden of it. Its unfortunate that this falls on only 1% of our population today. Because of that, and because of the highest sacrifice that too many families have had to pay, we need to respect each other. We need to support one another, both civilians and military families. 

At the end of the day the men and women who march into battle wearing the stars and stripes on their shoulder should be proud if we here remain so out of touch. That's part of the sacrifice. And maybe if we are feeling so isolated we should work harder to lift each other up, as opposed to having the age old "alpha suffering" contests and continually making everyone around dwell on the negative. 

When we moved to Walter Reed I truly felt like my life as a Milie before had been a fantasy land. I had no clue how much so many of our military families have to sacrifice for freedom. We're talking blood, limbs and livelihood. To say that America needs to be more affected by war just goes to show that even those of us who love a man in uniform can be out of touch. 

Tonight I will go to sleep knowing that rough men stand ready. Even now, after living with America's most severely wounded, I still don't understand it all. I'll go to sleep knowing that tomorrow I may say something the wrong way to G.I. Joe, or that others out there won't totally understand me. But I'll have yet another day to make the effort to show compassion for someone else's circumstances. All because God has blessed us with a multitude of people like our military and police officers and firemen who stand ready to protect our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. 

I love this guy more than words can say. 
He's STILL willing to go back...
to bare the burden
and memories
of war
in the hope that you and I will get to remain untouched.

Thank you, Babe. 
That most lonely and most forgotten part of your sacrifice
will never be taken for granted here.


Mrs. G.I. Joe said...

And now that you have patiently read through all that I promise no more soap box rants for a while :)

Teresa said...

Thank you and thank your husband. My son-in-law is in the Air Force and so I read your blog through my daughter's sight. My son is an Army man and will be deploying sometime this coming week. Life is short and unpredictable, enjoy your family!

Jen said...

This is a wonderful post.

Lora said...

I think this is a great post with some food for thought!

I guess my issue is I don't believe Americans should be untouched by war, when their country is at war. It doesn't mean every person can (or should) know what our men go through actually FIGHTING in the war, but being a country at war should cost all its citizens something. In World War I and World War II every citizen had sacrifices to make, and I do think it is a shame that we now fight wars and expect that 1% to shoulder the ENTIRE burden alone.

I do however completely agree that entirely too much time is spent focusing on the negative aspects of what it means to be a military spouse and family, and I try to keep my own blog focused on the positives of what this lifestyle teaches us and our children and extended families even, instead of only focusing on what it costs us.

I think I've only commented here once or twice, but I do check every single day to see if something new is posted (and I was before G.I. Joe was injured!) because I enjoy your writing and your perspectives so much!

Mrs. G.I. Joe said...

Lora thanks so much for checking in :) That's very sweet!

Its funny you mentioned WWII. Mine and Lucy's favorite bedtime books are what were my favorites as a kid: Molly, from the American Girl series. She grew up during WWII. It always amazes me how much people did for the war effort back then. And I'm always telling G.I. Joe that THAT is how it should be today. But then again...what we were dealing with then was altogether different warfare. It required a unique response, and likewise so do these wars.

But we could spend forever trying to pin point what degree one is referring to when they say "touched" by war. I still stand by everything I said for this reason. I'll use a different illustration that will hopefully draw you a picture...hopefully :) Thank God I do not know what its like to be a parent of a child with cancer. I can relate to the pains of seeing your child sick but I will by no way shape or form even try to pretend like I have an understanding of what its like to hear that my child has cancer. At Walter Reed we got to live at the Fisher House with a family who had a 4 year old daughter with cancer. We love them. Lucy loves this little girl and her siblings. We got to see her at various stages of feeling well or sick. We pray for them everyday. When we explained cancer to Lucy her response was what we hoped...she wanted to go by her and her friend matching hats and scarves. We don't just throw up our hands and say "I don't understand it, therefore I won't even bother." No. We support them and love them the only way we know how. I still know the true effects of having a child with cancer? No. That's not what God has chosen for our family. We help those we know going through it but unless God decides that's a path we are to walk, we will remain on the outside of what those immediate family members go through.

So like how we support others when our own family hasn't experienced can the public care for our military service members without having the weight of war on their shoulders.

That's just how I see it. The massive amounts of military wives begging people to just finally "get it" suggest I'm in the minority on this. But that's ok. I've been given perspective from living at Walter Reed and seeing things many don't have to. Yet...I still haven't and luckily won't ever fully get it. I'm thankful for the experience I do have and what I don't. I can't change what others do but I can pray that anytime God brings someone in my life He will show me ways to support them even if I haven't been in their shoes, for whatever reason. :)

hmb said...

I really kind of LOVE this post! You may feel like you are in the minority of spouses that feel this way, but I'll be in the minority with you :)

JG said...

This is perfect. And I have a feeling you aren't quite as much in the minority as you might think. :)

Amanda said...


I thank you and especially your husband for bearing that 1% responsibility. It is hard and never easy.. But it's done to protect the other 99% from the harsh reality of war.

chambanachik said...

I so agree. And I thank you and Joe and your family for fighting that fight. <3

Nicole said...

I just finished catching up on you guys. I'm at a loss for words but know that you and your family are in my thoughts. I can see the button on your sidebar that you made, "Keep Calm and Milie On". It's just so fitting... what else can we do? Big hugs, girl!
(aka: Mrs. Muffins)