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Like a "Retired" Jersey

My husband went into the field last week, and he was instructed to bring an old set of BDUs or DCUs to wear for some part of the training.

Uh oh.  Remember this?

Quilt

We don't have extra BDUs and DCUs anymore.  Crap.

I did keep one full pair of each, hung lovingly in the back of the closet.  I kept a nice, pressed BDU from when my husband was in Finance and the most beat-up, worn-out pair of DCUs from Iraq.  My husband suggested that he just take the one from Iraq, rip all the patches off, and take it into the field.

A panic gripped me.  I don't know where it came from, but I absolutely did not want to give up those uniforms.

It's silly, because it's not like he was throwing them away.  He was just going to start wearing them again.  But I could barely stop myself from crying as I tried to explain why I just couldn't let him do it.  He didn't get it.  Shoot, I don't even get it.  But it was something about that uniform that took him through 13 months in Iraq and then got "retired" to the back of the closet.  It was one chapter of his life that we had made it through and that I wanted to be able to look back on and hold in my arms, patches and all.  I imagined our kids playing dress up or wearing them for a school play someday.  I didn't want him to muck it all up out on an obstacle course or combatives class.  I wanted it to stay "retired," like a star athlete's jersey.

I also think it had something to do with the fact that he's getting ready to start another deployment chapter soon.  I didn't want him to take this set of DCUs away from me right before he's getting ready to leave again.  They were the symbol of surviving the first round.  They were proof that he had made it to Iraq and back home again once before.  I had imagined hanging a battered ACU in the closet beside them this time next year, another chapter in our life completed.  I needed all my chapters hanging in a row.

We actually had to go to a pawn shop and buy a set of DCUs.  It seemed so absurd to pay for something that we used to have ten pairs of before I cut them up into a quilt.  But I couldn't part with the two pairs I had kept.  I just couldn't.

I had no idea I was that attached to them until my husband needed to take them away.  And that I was way more attached to them than my husband would ever be.  Who would've thought that old DCUs could make me cry?  I thought that the quilt I had made would be the important heirloom, but it seems to have just made me more attached to the two uniforms I didn't cut up.

Do you have any military mementos that you hold dear, that you cherish as the symbol of a chapter of your life?

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