Today I received the following letter, written by one of the carrier’s chaplains. I couldn’t help but tear up as I read it (surprise surprise) and I just thought I’d share.
Thank you for staying true, and for all you do.
We are on the way home. With that comes varied emotions and attitudes
about what is to come, as things have changed.
They have changed for you, and they have changed for your Sailor. It
has been an even longer deployment for some of you,
as you never really experienced time with your Sailor at home in
between deployments. But you persevered. I have
experienced four deployments away from my family, and each one takes
its toll. I cannot imagine doing this without my bride
at home, carrying on with the mundane things of life while I either
ride the raging mane or endure boots on the ground.
This letter is to thank her and you, who continue to stand by your
spouse during this high operational time. That’s our Navy way
of saying, “You will have to do without your spouse for more months
than seems bearable.” It has not been easy for you, but you
have kept the home fires burning. Not because you knew the cost when
you married your Sailor or they joined, but because you’re
committed. You have endured countless days with no communication,
wondering about your Sailor, but you never gave up hope.
You never stopped writing, or answering the phone. You acted as
mother and father to little children, who did not always understand
what was going on; You endured the questions that teenagers
only seem to ask when your Sailor is away, and the broken bones and
illnesses that always seem to wait for those times of separation. You
put your career and education on hold, or somehow managed
to make it all work in spite of the hours required. You held fast
during times of uncertainty when you didn’t feel the love anymore,
because you know that love is something more than just a twitter of
emotion or butterflies in the stomach―it is a commitment to
something bigger than both of you.
You could have quit so many times, but you didn’t. While other
families celebrated birthdays and holidays, your Sailor was across the
world making it safe for their parties. There is no medal for what
you have sacrificed, no ticker tape parade. Yours is the quiet pain of
the Navy Spouse whose Sailor stands the watch. You wear the suffering
required for freedom, in ways that words cannot describe. The
media will use your pain, while others don’t understand. “How does
she do it?” “How does he stand the many days away?” Yours is the
quiet satisfaction of knowing what they do not, that freedom is not free.
You are the heroes who wait dutifully for your sea warrior to return,
who bear the burdens that some with you share. You are my heroes, because
without you we could not stand the watch. Without you our Nation
would have fallen many decades ago. Without you there will be no
children who understand the need and sacrifice, a lineage of honor,
courage, and commitment. You are the backbone of our Nation, and its future.
On behalf of your Sailors who stand the watch, thank you my wife and
you Spouses for never forsaking the watch.