Monday, July 6, 2009

4th of July Update!

My last post was written on the morning of the 4th of July as I anticipated the events of our evening celebrations. Now I want to recap the actual events and show you a few pictures :-)

Well, let me just say that the 4th of July celebration here at Ft. Bragg was awesome, as expected. It wasn't the musicians, vendors, or the food that made it fun. Although anywhere that you can buy funnel cakes, chicken sticks, cheese steak sandwiches, get your face painted and jump on a big bouncy thing is bound to be fun! We hauled our picnic blanket, two chairs, double stroller, cooler, diaper bag, snack bag, and 2 kids to the parade field with thousands of other military families to celebrate that evening. Oh, and it was sunny and HOT! But the kids were decked out in red white and blue and I was pumped for fun. We went along with some friends as well, so we had some other adults to chat with and more eyes to keep an eye on the kids, haha! But what made this event so fun for me was the camaraderie that just kind of "oozed" in the crowd. From where we sat, I saw young families like mine with little kids and/or babies. I saw younger men with military haircuts hanging out with pretty girls. These guys and girls were "livin' it up" drinking and partying - but this was pretty expected from this crowd. I saw older men and women with their families. I saw women gathered in two and threes and some towing little ones in wagons. I saw families with multiple generations all gathered together with several blankets and umbrellas hooked to chairs. Most everybody was in red, white, and blue and everybody seemed to be having a great time! For me, the coolest part of the night was watching the Golden Knights jump out of a plane and float down to the field. The precision and grace of these men/women dropping out the the sky was beautiful and quite impressive!

We had to leave the event early because D'd bedtime is usually at 6:30 and by 7:00 he was beginning to fall apart. We got him home and tucked in bed and C followed shortly thereafter. They were both pooped and fell asleep very quickly. B and I stayed up and when the fireworks started to go off we went out front to see if we could see them. It happened that some of our neighbors were out there as well. We couldn't really see the fireworks through the trees, but instead just saw glimpses of the big ones and heard the pops. However, this ended up being awesome because we got to chat with our neighbors for a long time! Three couples (including us) stood on the sidewalk and chatted about family, work (the Army!), Army housing, and deployments for over an hour. Another family from down the street saw us outside and they came down as well. We had a real "block party!" and got to know our neighbors. It gave me a good dose of reality and sacrifices that military families go through in serving our country by hearing what some of my neighbors are facing. The couple across the street are expecting their first baby in September, but the husband is deploying in August for a year. He will get to come home for R&R for 2 weeks, but thats it....for a year! And before that he was stationed in Korea! The guy a few doors down deploys every 4 months for 4 months. He and his wife are expecting their third child in January - which happens to be the month that he returns home from a deployment. He will then be home for 4 months with his family and then be off again. My own husband has gotten word that he will be leaving in October again for another 6 months....missing the holidays again. (I figured that this entire year, he was only home for Memorial day, 4th of July, Labor day and my birthday. He has missed/will miss Halloween, Thanksgiving, D's 1st birthday, Christmas, New Years, MLK, Valentine's Day, his birthday, C's 3rd...and 4th birthday, and Easter!) Our good friends who got married in April will be kissing goodbye for a year as well next month! Getting to know other military families makes me feel less alone. It makes me feel like their are other families going through the same separation at the same time. Hopefully, this Fall all the ladies on my street can band together while the men are away and the babies are born. I hope we can truly be there for one another!

I can't help but to continue on to Sunday morning at church and share a tiny bit from there as well. It was a great day to be in church! Being the 4th of July weekend, the service was very "patriotic" complete with a HUGE flag draped from the ceiling all the way down to the Choir chairs, the choir decked out in red, white, and blue, and several of our nation's most loved songs. What got to me the most was when the choir did a tribute to all the armed forces (keep in mind that I live and attend church in the city that holds the world's largest military installation!) and sang each of the different branch's "songs." They asked the past and current members of each branch to rise during their branch's song. Wow! When the songs began, tons of men and women stood, both young and old. The younger men, like my husband, stood tall. Their military haircuts and physically fit bodies would have made it easy to guess they were active duty soldiers or airmen. The older men stood proud and reverently as they heard their songs play. Their white hair and shorter statures led me to believe these were our nation's beloved veterans who had devoted prior years of service and sacrifice. I teared up as I saw some of the young women, like myself, stand - probably on behalf of their deployed husbands...or maybe as active duty women. There was a family two pews in front of me comprised of a military dad, a wife, and school-aged son. I only saw them from the back but it was apparent that the wife was crying for several of the songs. Her military husband had his arm around her shoulders trying to comfort her and their young son had his arm around her from the other side. I can only imagine what this family may have been facing, will be facing, or had just faced. Could it be a pending year-long deployment? A death of a friend, brother, or son in Iraq? I don't know, but my heart went out to her because I know there have been many times where just seeing other military families together made me fall apart. When B was gone last year, I cried my way through many songs in church, in the car, and at home. It seems that the next separation is never far from my mind. It's constantly looming over my head....4 more months and then he'll be gone again... I know I am not the only wife who thinks this way. I am sure most military spouses fell the same way.

I am sorry this got so long. Its just that the 4th of July was a special celebration this year. My husband is proudly serving our country. Our family is making those sacrifices that we have always heard about and been "thankful" for. It is just different for me now since I know what those are first hand. I am even more thankful my husband isn't serving in Afghanistan this year...he'll be in South America. But I am also thankful that my hairdresser's boyfriend is in Afghanistan. And that my neighbors and friend will be in Iraq. I am thankful for their sacrifices and for their services. I pray that everyone will return home safely...and that next 4th of July we will be celebrating the upcoming homecoming celebration of all these men and women!


  1. R, you are such a wonderful writer. Your words always touch me. I am so glad to call you my wife. What a blessing you are. I will miss you greatly when I leave again but I am proud to be able to serve our country. I love you! -B

  2. chill bumps and tears is all I can say! I am so proud of you guys, and I cannot tell you guys how much you mean to me.

  3. Randi, you are a wonderful writer. Very touching. I'm proud of my brother for his service and of you for your sacrifice as his wife. Love you both very much.