I watched part of the memorial service at the National Cathedral for former President Ford. I saw Nancy Reagan sitting next to Rosalynn Carter. I watched these ladies chat. Their husbands were from different political parties, their husbands had very different leadership styles, their husbands were total opposites. But there they were, chatting amicably with one another. Not that I would expect a catfight between two dignified ladies on such a somber occasion, but something struck me. These ladies, differences aside, were part of a club that non-members could never begin to understand.
Whether or not you like the President, or the First Lady, most of us can identify with how hard their roles must be. When I hear the military being disparaged, I take it personally. My husband, by extension, is being disparaged. Can you imagine how a First Lady, any First Lady, must feel when her husband is constantly raked over the coals in public?
The First Ladies club is small. First Ladies, political differences aside, must forge a special bond. Who could possibly understand the pressures they face, the constant demands on their time, what it's like to be married to the most powerful man in the world, what it's like to live your life under the microscope? Who, but them.
So, after watching Nancy and Rosalynn sit shoulder-to-shoulder, knowing they understood one another more than we will ever know, I said to myself, that's how milspouses feel too. We belong to a unique club. There are far more of us than there are First Ladies, but relative to the population, we're a small, tight club. If I found myself in Bora Bora and happened to run into a milspouse, we would feel an instant connection. We've walked a mile in one another's shoes.
Mamie Eisenhower had an interesting quote:
"Of course, being mistress of the White House is a terrific responsibility, and I am truly grateful for my Army wife training."
Letitia Tyler, wife of President John Tyler, wrote in a letter to her husband:
"Whether I float or sink in the stream of fortune I shall never cease to love you"
It's not true what some say, "you knew what you were getting into when you married a soldier." I don't think anyone can ever know what it's like to be a milspouse before they are actually there. However, we can float or sink. I prefer to float, swim even.
I am proud to be a part of this unique club. I hope you are too.