A hundred years ago, our house was built by a dairy farmer in a community full of dairy farmers.
The names of his cows are still scribbled in pencil under windows in the barn. We still walk on wood floors he hammered with squared nails. We look out his wavy glass windows.
So when a neighbor asked to include the house on a holiday home tour as "a bit of our history," I agreed.
But never have I been more aware that I live in the house of a Sailor, not a farmer. Seeing our home through the eyes of strangers, I was aware of all the ships that line our walls, the collections of coins from commands in all four services, the closets full of uniforms, the furniture picked up in junks shops in New Orleans and Chicopee and Castroville. Even our Christmas tree is covered with cloisonné fish from when Brad was last in port in China.
I was amazed how many of our townspeople saw these things (that cost almost nothing) and then reached out with their own stories of military service. I never felt so much a part of this community.
How I love our military life.
Hard to believe, I know. When so much of the stuff written about living military is about "surviving" military life or "embattled" military families, it is hard to believe that so many of us actually do love it. But we do.
They could have called the book, "Why Military Life Is Worth It." In a series of short-short one-liners and comics and stories, these writers offer the good parts of military life that the civilian world never knows. They have family bits about trick or treating on stairwells in Europe and inviting foreign students to decorate the Christmas tree. They reminded me of childhood memories of tracking Santa with NORAD on Christmas Eve and the deep pleasure of receiving Christmas cards from friends we served with years ago.
The authors also touch on the experience of being a military parent or a military brat. I loved the part in "You Know You Are A Military Brat When ... you see a child crying as they say goodbye to their daddy as he goes off to combat and you start to cry too because you know what that feels like." I know that feeling. A lot of people know that feeling.
This year we have witnessed countless news stories about how only one percent of the population serves in the military. This book reminds me that the one percent are my kind of people. And that when new wives and moms and Sailors and Soldiers and Marines and Airmen and Coasties become part of the clan, we need to remind them just why it is all worth it.
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