The children ran through the freshly mowed grass – its bright, green color sharply contrasting the grey clouds in the sky.
A sea of people sat straight and orderly in rows of white chairs.
We gathered to celebrate as our spouses, sons, daughters, mothers and fathers graduated from the Army War College – a historical institution.
Civil War history runs deep here in Cumberland Valley, PA. These grounds are sacred and highly esteemed.
We listened and observed the ceremony as the children chased one another.
Generals, Colonels, Honored Guests – all had important things to say. Graduates accepted their diplomas while names were called and cameras flashed. We applauded, stood in reverence, and remained silent for the guns’ salute.
Yet, the children continued to play. Shirt tails came untucked; bare feet broke free from shiny new shoes; pigtails and braids untangled in the wind.
Sitting straight and tall in our chairs, no one seemed to mind the children distracted in their game of tag.
Looking around, I admired crisply, pressed uniforms and flowery, summer dresses seated side by side. I sensed the loyalty, the camaraderie, the esteem we all have for one another with whom we serve.
We are a family.
Families let the children play when they are getting bored. Families sit side by side exchanging smiles and easy chit chat. Families admire one another’s new clothes and neatly combed hair. Families hug and kiss on the cheek in greeting. Families stand together, work together, celebrate together, and grieve together.
I am proud to be a military spouse and to raise my children within this unique heritage.
These children served as a reminder to me for why we serve, why we sacrifice, why we say goodbye to new friends. Children are our future, our hope. These children represent a common thread which connects us all – striving for peace, for stability, for security. We all have the same goal – that our children will continue to grow up strong with smiles on their faces and laughter on their lips.
We will not always be able to protect them. But, for the moment, yesterday morning we drew together providing a shelter in the storm of life for our children to freely play, and for our military personnel to receive the accolades and honors they so richly deserve.
In awe and admiration, I want to say, “Congratulations, AWC Class of 2013! We are so proud of you.”