This weekend I hope that you took a moment to stop and reflect on, and teach your kids about, what Memorial Day is.
I am proud to say that I served our country. I am also very proud of the fact that many people that I went to high school with have done the same thing, and some are even still serving now.
I was the petite little thing that everyone thought was crazy when I made the decision to go into the Army Reserves. Nobody could believe that the girly girl that worked at Victoria Secret Beauty was actually going to go off to basic training and become a soldier. Not only did I GO to basic training, I had higher PT scores than most of the others I was there with. As we were nearing graduation, I’ll never forget the group of older male soldiers that came over to me and congratulated me on making it through because they never expected me to. You see, I was the 5’3, 105 pound girl that first showed up with my fake nails on, I had my white cotton as required, but you better believe it came from Victoria Secret, and for body wash and lotion I managed to get away with Victoria Secret’s old Azurine scent because it was a very fresh and clean smell. The two areas that I had the most trouble with in basic training were learning to shoot an M-16 and the push ups. By going to a summer time basic training, I was there with many of the high school kids that would be finishing up their training and starting their service the following year after they graduated high school. I saw the difference it made in the 17 year olds that were told to either join the service or go to jail. It truly did change their lives, and they left basic with a much smaller chip on their soldier than they came in with. I shared a room with a young lady from Kansas that at 18 had never seen an African American person, other than on tv. It really gave me an opportunity to learn about how people in other parts of the country live and learn, and some of it I couldn’t believe we lived in the same country!
Fast forward to AIT. I was sent back to Ft. Jackson, SC for AIT the following summer. I had chosen to split the two because at the time that I originally enlisted, I was going into the Reserves. During my time at AIT, my mother needed to have surgery on her neck which meant she needed someone at home to help with my brothers because she obviously would not be able to lift them. I requested a leave to go home and was granted it. I was able to go home and help, and still get back and make up the lessons so that I could still graduate with my class, and at the top of class at that. I made the decision to request to be stationed at Ft. Drum in Watertown, NY because I had changed to Active Duty and that was the closest post to my family. Since NOBODY, and I do mean NOBODY requests to be stationed at Ft. Drum, it was almost automatically approved.
The rest of my time in the Army went by pretty fast. I met my now ex-husband and once I became pregnant with Alec, I made the choice to use the option that is available to women for an honorable discharge due to pregnancy. We didn’t want our son to be raised by daycare due to a dual military family. I give SO much credit to those families that ARE dual military. With my closest family members 4 hours away, it just wasn’t the right choice for us, and when I thought about writing a Family Care Plan that would be our plan in the event that we were both deployed, I just couldn’t do it. So much had changed in my life during the 3 years that I was in the military, that I knew it was time to go down a different path.
So this Memorial Day, I proudly stood up to be recognized with the other veterans at the Candlelight Ceremony that I attended with my sister queen, Amanda.