Do you remember where you were on September 11, 2001? I’m sure you do. Everyone who is old enough to remember that far back, remembers where they were on that day.
However, do you remember where you were on March 19, 2005? Many people won’t remember that date, but for me, that’s a day that I will never forget.
The day started out like any other, but there was an underlying current of stress, due to the upcoming presidential announcement scheduled for that evening. You might remember that President Bush gave Iraq a deadline that they had no intentions of meeting, and President Bush was supposed to address the nation that evening to formally declare war.
I was working the evening shift that day, so my co-workers and I moved a television into my office, and gathered around. Once the announcement had been made, I remember feeling many different emotions – shock, respect for the president for sticking to his convictions, and apprehension about what was to come.
My husband is active-duty military, and I’m in a branch of the Reserves. In 2003, I was still a “weekend warrior.” I worked one weekend a month, and two weeks a year. I wondered — in light of the declaration of war — what would our missions be, and how would the war affect our kids?
We pressed on, though.
Since that day, life has been a whirlwind for my family. We’ve dealt with several deployments for me. Those were trying times, but we made it through. There’s always a chance that another deployment will come down the line, and I’m ready for it. Luckily, my husband has not had to go yet, so the kids have had at least one constant during all this. My kids are scared at times, but like the brave little men they are, they keep their chins up and continue to support my husband and me.
Every day, I read the news media, or read my emails from the Department of Defense, and see word that another of my brothers or sisters in arms has paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. While I’ve done my part in the war effort, I always felt that there was more that I could do. I sent care packages to comrades overseas. I joined letter-writing campaigns, and made donations to programs that give free phone cards to deployed troops. That still wasn’t enough.
In January 2006, a local soldier lost his life in Iraq. My hometown newspaper was reporting on a group called the Westboro Baptist Church, and their plans to picket this young man’s funeral. I was incensed, outraged! What could I do to protect this soldier’s family? That’s when I found the Patriot Guard Riders, and I immediately signed up.
I went to that funeral, and saw the good work that the Patriot Guard was doing to fight evil, and I knew that I had found what I was looking for. I found a way to support my fellow troops. Since my first mission in January 2006, I have been on over 50 other funeral, send-off, and welcome home missions. This has helped me to keep the memories of fallen servicemembers fresh in the minds of Americans.
Since the war started, we moved three states away from home, and I transferred to another unit. While I only served part-time at my last unit, I’ve been able to get a full-time slot at this unit, and serve my country each day, as I have always wanted to do. While I was deployed this past summer, my unit called my family and checked on them, and made sure that their needs were taken care of.
My deployment was very stressful, but I was able to worry about one less thing, knowing that my family was taken care of in my absence. If you’d like to read my reflections on that single deployment, you can visit this story. I look forward to the day that this war ends, and all of my comrades are home safe and sound on US soil. Until that day, I’ll proudly serve my country, and support those that are deployed. No matter what, I will always be proud to be an American.