Today’s Soldier Story Saturday post is written by Mike. Mike is an active duty Marine currently stationed in Monterey, CA while attending the Naval Postgraduate School where he is studying to earn his Master’s Degree in Defense Analysis. He has been in for 15 years and has deployed 5 times, including combat deployments to Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. Mike has been married for 11 years to his wife Julie and they have three children, 10 year old twins and a 3 year old son. In his spare time, Mike enjoys running and blogging. You can follow his journey at www.justalittlerun.com or find him on Twitter at @justalittlerun.
Today, on Christmas Eve, as we spend time with family and reflect on our year, I wanted to write about sacrifice. As a Marine, I’ve spent countless holidays away; away from home, away from family, and away from friends. It’s part of the job after all. None of us chose to serve and defend our country only when it was convenient or only Monday-Friday from 9 to 5.
This isn’t about my sacrifice though, it’s about those who have a choice and still choose to sacrifice in order to remain with their service member. This is about family, my wife and kids specifically. After all, isn’t family a key part of the holidays?
As a family we have celebrated the holidays in many places…some exotic and some not so much, but through them all we’ve been together. My oldest children are 10 (they are twins) and they have spent 8 of their 10 Christmases away from the rest of their relatives; Grandparents and Aunts and Uncles and cousins. But you know what, we are all stronger for it and the visits we do have together are that much better because of it.
There have been Christmases in:
We are not sad, though we do miss our families. Each year as we celebrate Christmas in a new town, with new friends, we also continue to build our own family experiences and new family traditions to add to those cherished in times past. If you saw our tree you would see myriad ornaments from each duty station we have served at. Each one represents a different memory and a different experience from our travels.
Last Christmas was extremely poignant as we spent the holidays driving across country, PCSing from Virginia Beach, VA to Monterey, CA. We spent Christmas Eve in Springfield, Missouri, enjoying a delivery pizza while decorating a 2 foot tall Christmas tree in our hotel room. On Christmas morning, we opened presents that Santa had delivered overnight (the kids were very concerned that Santa might not find us, but he did ), filled up the van with gas and headed to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma to another hotel room, more takeout, and a heated pool where we spent Christmas evening splashing and swimming. Once again, we were away from our families, but together with one another, building memories that we will not soon forget.
So this year, as you celebrate the holidays with your friends and families, remember to think about all those service members deployed away from theirs as they protect our nation’s freedom. While you’re at it, please don’t forget to include all those families that are also away, by their own choice, living alongside their serviceman/woman away from the comforts of extended family.
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