Friday September 25th started early, before the sun began to rise. We loaded sleeping kiddos, celebration items, and Army attire into the van. Our three hour trek down to Fort Leavenworth, KS is one we travel often. One that Anthony has been making every week for the past two and a half years while he has been stationed there and the kids and I have remained in Omaha alone, working the farm.
The Fort Leavenworth area is beautifully nestled along the Missouri River, hidden among huge trees and rolling hills. We were stationed there together for eleven months back in 2011 and have many friends, who are more like family, that have retired in the area. As we entered the main gate we were greeted by all things Army; flags, uniforms, military etiquette, historical red brick buildings, military statues and salutes.
The ceremony couldn’t have been in a more perfect location. Anthony and I both prefer the outdoors, even our wedding was outside on the banks of the Oak Creek River in Sedona, AZ. Today’s ceremony was in the shade of huge oak trees and next to a beautiful pavilion.
The kids were dressed in their Sunday best, girls (well at least one of them) had a bow in her hair. We gathered with friends, socially distanced, but still in great company. I was crying before the ceremony even began. Adding to it there were a few, only God ordained, chill up the spine, moments that day. The most important being that of CSM Ferguson. Anthony was stationed with 1BCT, 101st Airborne Division and deployed twice to Iraq. Serving with him was then, SFC Ferguson. Now, years later, by complete coincidence (or not) he was the soldier to give Anthony his last coin.
Anthony and I joined the Army family in our early twenties. The family we have grown to love, the good and very bad experiences we have had have shaped us. We are different than we were at twenty but we are stronger, unique, and equipped to do a different task than many others. Separation, war, death…these things can either break you or make you stronger. These are the things that have made both of us the people we are today. I am not ready to let go, not ready to embrace a “soft” life. I want the adrenaline pumping, boots on ground, way of charging forward. Love, laugh, and live LOUD!!
We make a great team. Even through the crap that has hit us head on, we have leaned on each other. I am proud of Anthony and thankful I have been able to march along his side.
I hope God has some mighty wild plans for us. I don’t want a soft cushy life. I need the thrill of the unknown. Farming I think will satisfy some of that but our work with Veterans and their families will be the key, the need we have to care for people, that will keep us whole through this transition.