Over the weekend, we attended a hail and farewell on Joint Base Myer–Henderson Hall. The Army isn’t necessarily known for it’s beautiful instillations or spectacular locations but the rolling hills on Joint Base Myer–Henderson Hall offer some of the most gorgeous and uniquely American views of both Arlington National Cemetery and the National Mall across the Potomac River. Whenever I am on the post, I’m calmed by the history, beauty, solemness, and unity that hangs in the air.
Hail and farewells are traditional Army events where incoming and outgoing personnel are recognized. While I side-eye some of the more outdated military social practices (e.g. calling cards and officer wives clubs), I’ve thoroughly enjoyed attending military balls, dining outs, promotion parties, and hail and farewells over the years. And last night, while animatedly talking with some of Clay’s coworkers – a glass of cabernet sauvignon in my hand – I had the realization that such social engagements are what keep me going when I am frustrated most with the Army. When I stripped down our somewhat transient and seesaw existence, it’s simply a collection of moments involving the breaking of bread together, camaraderie, and respect.
Sometimes I wonder if I should write more about experiences specific to being a military spouse. I mentioned in my All Things Army: You Asked, I Answered post that I tend to get a bit squirmy when writing specifically about my husband’s career – I try to do so in as vague of terms as possible, which doesn’t necessarily lend itself to the blogging world. I’ve written about dealing with disappointment and what it is like to return to a duty station and the time I didn’t bloom. But I like to think of this space as so much more than just the sliver of my life that is occupied by being a military spouse.
I am so incredibly proud of my husband – he works hard and gives so much of himself to a cause greater than him. And there is a lot about our lives that is directly impacted by his career. Yes – I am a military spouse because I am married to a member of the military, but it is just one small part of who I am as a person. In fact, I don’t own one piece of clothing with ARMY silkscreened or embroidered on it. All of the spouse-related pins I’ve acquired at various functions over the years are tucked away in a jewelry box, never worn. And I still need to glance at the program when singing The Army Goes Rolling Along at official events and I refuse to use “hooah” as part of my vernacular.
But I also my husband’s biggest cheerleader. I think he is an absolute wonderful human-being, husband, and father and an incredible asset to the Army. I encourage him to compete for difficult assignments. I continue to sacrifice some of my own career aspirations in order to support his. I look forward to the hugs and kisses when he returns from a trip or simply comes home for the day. And I am there for when he simply just needs to talk. I am many things and a military spouse just happens to be one of them.
After the hail and farewell, the few leaves that were left on the trees rustled in the wind as we walked back to our car from our host’s house. Clay held my hand and thanked me for putting up with the craziness of his job. And when I replied, “I love you and support you and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.” – I meant it.