For those of you who have ever lived in or visited Hampton Roads you will know that it's a military town. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard... we have it all. When you've lived here your entire life you become accustom to a group of young soldiers in McDonald's getting lunch or a convoy of tanks and Humvees rolling down the interstate. It's a part of life here. We wake up to the sound of Marines running and singing cadence in unison - there's nothing better than hearing that. Our house regularly gets "buzzed" by helicopters and if you visit Virginia Beach you are sure to see the Jets flying (we LOVE Jet noise!).
I have had more friends than I can count wait for a husband, wife, sister or brother come home from a deployment. I have silently cried while during Show-n-Tell a three year old holds up a picture of his dad in desert camouflage, standing in the sand, holding a sign that says "I love you Ryan". I know children who put their lives on pause while they wait for their parents to return from a too long tour. I know men who have missed the birth of their child; went away with a newborn and came home to a toddler. I have seen families anxiously wait for orders not knowing when or where they will move.
I guess what I'm saying is, I've seen it all. But what I never become used to is the ultimate sacrifice Military Families have to face. Two days after a helicopter crashed and killed 30 American servicemen in Afghanistan, my friend had to say goodbye to her best friend and husband. He is an Army helicopter pilot going back to Afghanistan for the remainder of a 15 month tour. They have two children. How they let go is completely baffling to me; my heart goes out to them and to every family who has to let go, never knowing if they will ever see their loved one again.
The SEALs that were killed in the recent crash lived and worked right here in Hampton Roads. It's hit our part of the world hard, you can read about it here:
"Thank you for your service" is a small thing to say.
****UPDATED Wednesday August 10th****
This article was in the paper this morning, a very sweet tribute to such a tragic event.