American Sweetheart

Isn’t it amazing how the tiniest thing can brighten your day?

At this point, its no secret that I’m a Soldier; a proud one at that. Although I love my job (usually) it has begun to take its toll over the years. To date, I still don’t think I’d trade my profession for any other, but I can’t help but wonder what it’d be like to have a more normal life. Certain liberties that the general population seem to take for granted like the option of being able to see my family whenever I want, having a say in where I live or have an inalienable right to express myself are those that I choose to sacrifice in service of my country. Even with all of this in mind, I continue to Soldier on. It may not always be easy or fun, but I know that my choice to continue to serve is the right one. Who else is going to protect my family and their rights?

At this point, its been nearly four years since I’ve visited home. You’d never know that by the way I rep my city in person and in print, but its the truth! Over the years I have missed weddings, funerals, graduations and family gatherings that prior to my choice to enlist, I held events those events dearly. As tough as I may be, being the absentee daughter/sister/cousin/friend started to really bother me and in time began to chip away at my psyche. Not only have I missed important family events and in a way, have been robbed of would be memories, I have younger relatives whom I’ve never met which is a different type of feeling for me and for a while, gave up on the notion that some relatives even remember who I am. Of course my immediately family and older relatives remember me, but what about the kids? Surely they don’t remember me. I’d convinced myself that upon my return, even if only for a little while, I’d be a stranger in my own “home” and in some regard have to reintroduce myself to the world. This almost eerie notion is one I’d been harboring for years now but have done my damnedest to repress and ignore. This morning however, something out of the ordinary happened that has given me a new sense of hope and really caught me off guard.

Today was a not-so-special day so I woke up, rolled over and grabbed my cell phone as I always do to check my notifications, stare at Facebook, lurk around on Instagram, etc. Among the usual notifications of emails, texts and a missed call, I saw a message that really stuck out from my cousin, Jessica. As any removed relative, I was happy to see a message from her! It always brightens my day to hear from the family members I don’t get to talk to much. Of course there’s Facebook and other forms of social media that keep you in the loop of what’s going on to a certain degree, its different and even more impactful to have direct contact with someone. With that, I opened up the message to read its contents. The message itself was short, sweet and to the point but the attachment is what really made the difference.

Attached the the message was a picture that my younger cousin Victoria (Jessica’s daughter) completed at school. What made it so special? From the looks of it, Victoria was tasked with describing a person she considers to be a hero and why. Who was the hero you wonder? Me! I’m not sure if I was more shocked, excited or honored when I read what she’d written [translated]: “My hero is Che’mar for protecting our country. My hero is Che’mar for protecting us, protecting our country and our lives. You’re the best cousin a kid can ever have!”. Oh. Em. Gee. Ignoring the fact that this is one of the sweetest things I’ve ever seen/received, I’d actually assumed Victoria would’ve forgotten who I am! She was so young when I moved away and even before that, I didn’t get to see her or my other cousins from that area very often so the fact that she remembered me what enough to shock me, but that fact that she considers me a hero? That’s a badge of honor that the Army can’t issue.

No matter how challenging things may be, when asked how I can maintain my resolve during times of stress, madness, mayhem and just not feeling hooah, I always tell people that “its important to stay strong. It may be tough, but you never know who’s watching and relying on your strength to keep them going. If you have it in you to carry on, do it. Someone out there needs it more than you” and that “someone out there looks up to you; make sure you give them something to be proud of!”. Its incidents like this that help remind me that those sayings aren’t just words I spout off to privates to keep them going, nor is it just mantra I recite to myself to try to fake the funk, those words are true and really are ideals that I’ll continue to hold fast to. It makes a world of difference to know that what you’re doing and the sacrifices you’ve made really do matter to someone, and not just any someone, a someone that you didn’t know was watching.

For once, I’m at a loss for words with a clever closing line. After my soap box speech above a lengthy conclusion may not be necessary. Instead, take a look at the image below. I can’t wait to get the real one in the mail! I might not take a whole lot with me to my next assignment, but these two documents certainly are coming with me!

Victoria, thank you SO much for your support! It really does mean a lot to me and I’m honored to be your hero! 😀

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