We all have a bit of patriotism within us. Whether it is great deal or just a hint of it; we share in the beliefs and ideals of our country. During the Olympics we cheer for our fellow countrymen regardless of the sport or our interest level of that sport. We curiously peek at the medal count to see if any other country will rival us in total victories or gold medals. Or perhaps it is when your favorite musical artist performs a heartwarming tribute to our military forces defending our nation or have lost their lives doing so; we feel a since of grateful obligation. This is patriotism. You may or may not be close to anyone who has or is presently serving and therefore truly cannot fully grasp the exact nature and definition of a HERO. Hero, the label we so easily give to those whom put their lives on the line for our nation, but do we have a firm understanding as to why we bestow such a title unto these courageous people? What is a hero, what is a patriot, and what can we take from their stories and experiences that can propel us as civilians to achieve for the better good? The life of a serviceman in the United States military is far more complex and incredibly intriguing than I have ever understood.
To refer to my eldest sister and her husband as heroes would be a terrible case of over simplification. We all have our own comprehension of the difficulties, trials and tribulations that are associated being a functional individual in everyday American society. Can you begin to imagine how much more complicated this functionality can become when concepts such as spending six to eight months living in a hostile environment are inserted? This is the life of my sister and brother-in-law.
Toni and Walter serve in the United States Air Force and have done so for the past twenty plus years. It is not their remarkable accomplishments and achievements while wearing the uniform that has me amazed, but what peaks my level of intrigue and respect is what they are able to accomplish when they go home at the end of the day and take the uniform off. They are still, tutors, cooks, doctors, psychologist, housekeepers, chauffer’s, coaches, mentors, students, and above all a mother and a father! During Toni’s current assignment at the historic Joint Base, she was tasked with a deployment that pulled her away from her family and friends during a critical time of year. Having to miss birthdays, an anniversary, Thanksgiving, Christmas and a host of other milestone events, she boarded a plane for an uncertain tomorrow. After months of service, Toni returned to an anxiously awaiting family. As any curious individual, my improvised interview question was “how was it?” My initial expectation was to hear how scared she was living under fire; however that was not the case. She simply stated that she missed her family. This mother of four beautiful girls is somehow able to serve our nation and the demands of defending our freedom while balancing the everyday tasks of being a Girl Scout Troop Leader, Church nursing room volunteer, Cheerleading Team Mom, and Volleyball Team Mom. That is not all, this small town girl from California has remarkably accomplished all the above while earning an Associates Degree in Accounting and Finance, a Bachelors Degree in Accounting and Finance, as well as a Masters Degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Accounting! It astonishes me how one can achieve so much under such extreme conditions. She attributes her successful navigation through motherhood and academics not only to a firm parental upbringing and supportive husband, but to the discipline and commitment to something greater received via the United States Air Force.
How do you do it? How do you go to work everyday knowing that at anytime you could be called to deploy? Walter explains to me the unique differences between the average citizen and those whom serve in the military. When one goes to