You never know when you are going to need that ball gown. Gold star wife Kim Felts got the call on Monday that she would be having dinner two days later at the White House — and that she would be sitting next to Mrs. Obama. “It’s been a whirlwind,” said Felts in a phone interview. “Fortunately, my daughter was married in June so I had a dress standing by.”
Felts has been instrumental in developing the Army’s Survivor Outreach Services program over the past several years. Her husband, Colonel Thomas H. Felts, Sr. passed away on November 14th, 2006 in Baghdad when an explosive detonated near his vehicle. In addition to caring for their children and working with Special Forces Command, she now helps 45 survivors in her area find their “new normal.” She is the kind of survivor military members expect all of us to be.
In our interview, Kim Felts said that the family could feel the presence of her husband with them here in Washington, D.C. Kim remembered how outraged her husband was when the Northwestern University’s national championship women’s lacrosse team wore flip flops to the White House in 2005. “He told the kids, if you get the opportunity to go to White House, please dress appropriately.”
His daughter Rebekah, 19, got the news and bought a gown. Her sparkly pumps were already in the closet.
I asked Kim Felts what she would be thinking about when she walked up to the White House tonight. “We were together so long,” she mused. “We dated seven years. We were married 23. We had four beautiful children and an incredible journey around the world and overseas. This is a … completion.”
I could understand what she meant. There may be a sense of completion in the idea that the country would honor our service members at the White House today, especially the kind of sacrifice exemplified by Colonel Felts and all those who died in war. But there is something of completion, too, in that we as a country honor the force exemplified by gold star wives and parents and children who have built lives that truly honor the intentions of our military members.
Navy wife Jacey Eckhart is Editor of SpouseBuzz and author of I Married a Spartan?? The Care and Feeding of Your Military Marriage available on iTunes and on www.jaceyeckhart.com.