The Women Behind the Scenes

                   What it Really Means to Wear the Uniform

I am the mother of 2 active duty Marines.  Each of my sons have strong, patient women waiting for them.  These women & I wait for them to return from war, from deployments, from dangerous and faraway places.  We have been waiting 7 months.  We have been waiting 3 weeks.

We are waiting women.  We wear the uniform, too.

I remember back in 2007, when General Peter Pace was serving as the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staffs, he said, “Thank you for your service.  You are serving in the military even though you don’t wear a uniform.”  He was speaking to a rather large audience of family members on an Army base in Hawaii.  All of them had a loved one deployed, mostly to Iraq.

At the time, I didn’t get what General Pace meant but I thought, hey, that’s a nice thing to say to the families.  My sons were new Marines and so we had not experienced a deployment.

Today I get it.  TOTALLY.   When I saw my daughter-in-law bravely send her husband off to war, just 6 months after getting married, I knew she would be wearing the unseen uniform.   That was their first goodbye.  My son has just returned from his second deployment in less than 2 years.  Since they have been married, they have spent more time apart than together with his 2 deployments to Afghanistan.

My daughter-in-law, Stephanie, has been waiting for my older son to return.  She waits to hear about his experiences in Thailand from diving and free falling out of planes at high altitudes teaching other Marines how to jump.   To say he engages in dangerous operations is an understatement.   He jumps, combat dives, & is in danger mode much of the time.   She waits to know he is okay, that he will come back intact.  She, too, wears the uniform.

We are women waiting, waiting.

We are waiting.

One more time.

I thought of us waiting on the night before Rob returned from Afghanistan and Andrew was in Thailand.  Both were in different parts of the world, all 3 women scattered in California, Alaska, & Okinawa.   Waiting.

I am a mother of 2 Marines.   I know NOW what General Pace meant about wearing the uniform.  I wait to hear that their plane has touched down safely.   I wait to hear that my sons are in one piece, that they have survived.  I wait to know how they handle the effects of war.  I wait to check them out with my own eyes.

What I am learning from this waiting is once again about letting go.  I am learning to not be afraid, to trust.  I am learning that worry & fear do not help.

I wear the uniform, too.  Because I have to.  Because I will.

We are women waiting, waiting. 

We are women behind the scenes.  We wear the uniform you cannot see.


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