A Letter to My Son on Veteran’s Day {Part II}

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My Darling Boy,

Last year for Veterans Day I shared our military lineage in a letter to you. I laid out a figurative patchwork of military colors and stories. This year, I want to share with you how to be a steward of traits I admire in those who serve. Although, you don’t need to join the military to be brave, to love with all you have, or to help those who need it most. All of this starts with you, not the career path you choose.

I was anticipating your entrance into this world and my life last year around Veteran’s Day. I didn’t know what to expect, what features you’d inherit, or how your existence would impact me for the better. It’s been a speedy 12 months and I can say, with confidence, that I’m still anxiously anticipating your future. Sometimes my mind drifts thinking about how there are parts of myself that reflect so brightly in you. I marvel at how imperfect I am, but how incredibly perfect you are to me. One day I hope you’ll read these words and see yourself through my eyes. Along with that, my goal is to instill courage, love, compassion, and a giving spirit in you.

A Letter to My Son on Veterans Day {Part II}
A trio of photos in Afghanistan.  Living quarters known as B-Huts (Barracks Huts) on the left. A common sight top right.  Receiving care packages bottom right.  

I will admit, I didn’t understand values such as service or integrity until I was exposed to countries and people who weren’t as fortunate as I was during my time in the Air Force. It shouldn’t have taken sacrifice to realize that I was so incredibly lucky to live in the United States and come from a supportive family. They never let me know what it felt like to want. They wanted to give me everything they never had. And I want you to understand everything I didn’t.

So, Son, start small. If you see anyone in need of a friend, you be that friend. If someone looks a little down, give a smile. If someone needs help, offer your hand. If you stand for these seemingly small things, they will turn into bigger forms of good as you walk through life.

I know these situations and circumstances aren’t always apparent to us as life is hectic, but I’ll be there to help you help others. Despite our family having a long military lineage, I don’t expect you to carry that on. I want you to forge your own boulevard, byway, or highway. Whatever you choose, do it with all the love in your heart, all the courage you can muster, and all the compassion you can rally.

You are, by far, the absolute best experience that has come into my life. Be that for every person you come in contact with. Take the patchwork of your family tree — the Air Force blues, the Marine Corps red, the sturdy confidence that your great-grandfather stood with, the giant, silly smile that your Uncle Joey emitted, the pride that your grandma takes in doing everything with one hundred percent effort — and you’ll have everything you need to guide you.

With love,

Mama

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Raised outside of Orlando, Florida, redheaded Melissa is an avid sunscreen and shade enthusiast. She left Florida in 2007 to serve in the United States Air Force as a radio and television broadcaster. After basic and technical training she was stationed in Illinois, South Korea, Italy, and Alabama with two deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan sprinkled in between. In 2013, she met her husband Gregg and in 2015, they were married. This gave Melissa the new title of Bonus Mom to Gregg's daughter, Isabella. That year also welcomed Melissa back into the civilian world as her eight years of service came to a close due to medical retirement. She has called Birmingham home for the past 3.5 years. Shortly after they were married, Melissa and Gregg found themselves wading through the confusing and emotional world of miscarriage and unexplained infertility. They excitedly welcomed a son in November of 2017 after two years of trying for a little miracle. Melissa dedicates her extra time to spoiling their three rescue dogs Ginger, Typsy, and Bruno. She also fosters dogs before they find their furever homes.