My Independence Day

Posted: July 6, 2014 in General
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I celebrated my last Independence Day on active duty this year.  It feels a little weird to throw that out there like that, but for the last 20 plus years I have been privileged to wear the uniform of my country on the birthday of my country.  For the last 19 of those years my wife and I have celebrated our 1 July marriage anniversary in conjunction with the 4th, I think that mostly started because the 4th was the day I had off of work and we knew we could celebrate unabashedly without the need for getting up early the next day.

This year we celebrated in our retirement location, where the family has been settled in for almost two years now.  We did not do our last big blast at Bragg like we have done so many years in the past.  New town puts on a pretty good show, the fireworks were not bad, considering they put absolutely no thought in to where they launched them from, but once the crowd shifted their position and moved forward of the trees that were blocking them, it turned out to be a pretty good display.  I am pretty sure the planners will do a little better next year at sighting them or at least focusing the thousands of people who showed up better prior to their beginning.

At the end of the day though, they just were not Bragg’s fireworks and all the events that go on with the day.  There was no flag ceremony, no cannons firing off, no buzz that you can only find surrounded by your brothers and sisters in arms, and, as much as I may hate to give them credit for it, there were no Golden Knights dropping in for the official kick-off of the festivities.  Despite this, it was a great day out with the family in our new home.

It was the last time we will celebrate with our son as a minor, he will be of age next year and free to be on his own.  We will still have our little girl who loves to get decked out in the red, white and blue and show a level of patriotism that is becoming a rarity these days.  She is swiftly approaching her teen years so I will hold on to that for as long as I can and the red, white and blue are replaced by all black, attitude and hostility.

Next year I will celebrate as a Veteran.  Hopefully, I will still be as enthused as I have always been.  Some of the reason for moving the family out so early was to get them settled and make it as easy as possible for them before I retire and uproot their lives and just turn them upside down.  Another part of the reason was so that I could get used to my new surroundings and slowly wean myself off that machine that has kept us going for so many years.  Maybe, just maybe, make it a little easier when I am going through the withdrawal that happens to everyone who has spent so long in uniform.  I know there are going to be some rough spots as I move further away from the life I have lead for so long, but we made these moves with the idea of sanding down some of those rough edges before they can do any harm.

January 1st I put one life behind me and officially begin another.  I trade one roller coaster for another.  It is a little bittersweet this last year in uniform.  I am leaving at a time that is just as, if not more tumultuous than any other in the last decade plus.  Friends and comrades are still in and will continue to go in to harms way.  Children of those I have served with over the years have reached an age to pick up the mantle and continue the fight we have grown too tired to.

Next year my daughter will finally get the undivided attention of Dad for the first time in her life.  My son will be a man in the eyes of the law.  And, my wife and I will get to celebrate our anniversary on whichever day we choose, simply because we choose to, not because it may be a day off and Uncle Sugar has extended it to me in his benevolence.  I look forward to being a Mister again and seeing things through the eyes of a civilian, or as close to that as is possible knowing the sacrifices that go in to keeping our country and freedoms in tact, whether it seems like they may be or not.  Next year I truly get to be part of the audience rather than a member of the crew putting on the show.


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