This year, Veterans Day seems a bit different to me. I have always been patriotic, honoring and respecting our flag, our American heritage, and our veterans. I remember always taking the kids to local Memorial Day and Veterans Day parades and services when they were younger to hopefully help instill in them that same love and honor of those who serve our country. I remember, years ago, one of the aging veterans at a Portsmouth, NH ceremony, speaking of his concern and sadness at how the numbers of those attending such events had dwindled over the years and wondering what the future would hold for a people that doesn’t remember those who have fought and even died for them.
Living in Enterprise, AL for three years, a place where the military presence is quite marked due to Fort Rucker, my respect only grew, not only for our soldiers, but also for the loved ones that they leave behind while they serve. We got to know and become friends with many people who were either active-duty or had retired; in fact, most of the people we knew were somehow connected with the military.
I had written a few months ago, after we’d moved up to our current location, that I would fill you in on what had happened for the many months in our lives prior to our move. Last fall, my Southern Man’s job situation changed and, after much discussion and prayer, he took a job that was 3 1/2 hours to our north. We decided that since the kids had already been uprooted from NH, had finally settled into school and church in Enterprise and made friends, were already in the thick of the school year, and our son was in his senior year, that it would be too much to move them to another new school system and town at that time. So, for eight months from October to June, we remained in Enterprise while their dad lived and worked away from us. We were fortunate that he was usually able to come home for a weekend or two most months. We were also very blessed that, in spite of the separation, we had a fantastic support system through our church.
When we first moved to Enterprise, we tried to treat it like a new adventure to be made the most of, but it didn’t take long before we began to wonder why we were there. Before we moved from New Hampshire, things in our lives had taken a turn for the worse and the situation seemed to be spiraling down the toilet. We were way behind in our mortgage, couldn’t sell the house since the market was so poor, and had thousands of dollars of medical bills that we couldn’t pay, as well as other bills that we were behind on. When a job opportunity in Enterprise, AL came up in January of 2010, we felt it was the only option we had, at that point. We moved to Enterprise in April of 2010, after being separated for 6 weeks while my Southern Man started the new job, working under a man he had once worked with in New Hampshire. We had gone through so much loss and the grief that comes with it, including the deaths of both our dads within 3 weeks of each other in the fall of 2009. We had to foreclose on our house, had a car repossessed, and ended up filing Chapter 13. The culmination was when I took the kids to NH to visit in June of 2011 which was marred by the sudden passing of a dear uncle, only to return to Enterprise and have my Southern Man’s mother pass away just a few weeks later.
While we made the decisions ourselves, we felt that we had little choice but to move to Enterprise for the job that was offered. Yet, we asked ourselves and eventually our pastor, why had God put us there? Why after suffering so much loss, would we be in a place so far from anything familiar, especially any extended family? Anyone who has family knows that in stressful situations, there is only so much help and comfort you can give each other. You simply need more. All four of us were so full of grief and pain and the only solace we had was each other and God. By the time we met with our pastor, we had reached the end of the comfort we were able to give each other. We were miserable and questioning our situation and God’s will in it. The only thing we could come up with was that God was using the situation to draw us closer to Him and strengthen our relationship with Him. That was exactly what had started happening before we even met with our pastor. We had been going to this church for several months and decided to join it not long afterwards. It felt like home and the people felt like family–they were family, loving, supporting, and praying for us. After the counseling session and prayer with our pastor, things got better. We never cared for the area we lived in–some love it, but it just wasn’t for us–but we were happy with the few friends we’d made through my Southern Man’s job and the many we’d made through our church. God continued to use them to help us through things, including our automobile accident and normal everyday-life challenges that we all face.
When we were separated from each other for those eight months, it was even more obvious that God had put us in just the right place for the situation. We were surrounded by people who either were or had been involved with the military and there was a certain kinship, there. However, more importantly, it gave me a much greater empathy of what our military families go through, although I can never truly understand. Because, yes, although we were apart and things were difficult at times, my Southern Man was only a few hours away, not a half a world away. He was working at a job in a safe country, not in one full of enemies trying to kill him. He wasn’t risking his life doing his job, like the soldiers of these families are doing every day. He won’t come home from his job with physically or mentally debilitating injuries. He won’t be physically or emotionally scarred for life by anything he has seen or done. Many, if not most, of our soldiers are experiencing these things. Their families are right there with them, often helpless to do anything but love them, offer support as they best know how, and pray.
So as I was saying, this Veterans Day and each one from here on out, seems a bit different to me. I have an even greater appreciation for these men and women and their loved ones that back them up. We need to do more to honor them, we need to reach out to them and their families. Support them. Pray for them. Not just on this day, but every day.