The Sacrifice I Couldn’t Make

I remember standing on that stage, my fellow officers beside me. And while I can’t remember what was said at that moment, I’ll never forget the well-spring of emotions bubbling inside of me.

Some minutes before, I raised my right hand and promised to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States,” and the smile stretched across my face as I uttered, “So help me God.” The captain commented on how smiley I had gotten at the end, and the audience chuckled. And now standing there in the row, knowing that I had changed the course of my life by taking that vow, I felt a pride that I rarely feel for myself.

I was joining the ranks of those who sacrifice for their country every day. My dresses and skirts were now replaced with a blue uniform, my jeans with camouflage, and the career with discipline at its core was now mine to embrace.

And I was brought back to this moment when she called my name. Something in her voice as she called, “Mommy,” the desperate need for me to hold her, to comfort her as the doctor squeezed her arm.

Standing on that stage together, we all heard the little baby cry, “Mommy!” as she saw clearly her mother on that stage, the woman who was my roommate for the last twelve weeks. And all of the emotion I had suppressed gushed out of my eyes. The three months of stress I harbored as I worked under the watchful eyes of  those wanting to catch us in a mistake, the three months of sleeping in my single bed instead of the arms of my husband, the three months of having to earn any freedom I had instead of deciding my own liberties–that three months of tension burst out from me.

I looked out and saw my own mother in the crowd, a veteran before me, and our tear-filled eyes connected. I cried like an idiot because I heard the word, “Mommy” and knew the tears that that mommy had shed; I cried because I couldn’t stop.

And as I held my own daughter yesterday, I remembered that officer who went months without holding hers. I thought of those who have gone years.

Before I joined the military, I knew this career would be a ‘before children’ career. I was willing to sacrifice for my country, even my life, but not them.

I held my daughter close yesterday and, with gratitude, thought of my fellow officer, my former roommate, and the sacrifices she had to make. The sacrifice that I couldn’t.

14 thoughts on “The Sacrifice I Couldn’t Make

      1. I'll try to write something a little more light-hearted tomorrow. This week's posts have been a little heavy. 🙂


  1. I’m with you on this, I wouldn’t want to leave my children. I was also thankful that when I met Jai he was already over the ideal age for joining the military – that way I would have one less thing to worry about.


    1. I'm so thankful to those who do it because there are so many who have to leave their children behind when they deploy, but I couldn't do it.


    1. Yes, I sought a commission after 9/11 and after my brother-in-law went to Iraq. I was so proud of him and our military, and I wanted to be a part of what they do. But, as Mr. Murphy would have it, I got pregnant with my son relatively soon after starting! I don't regret my decision to stay home with my son (and now two daughters), but I do wish I had had more time in the Air Force. I truly loved it.


  2. Wow! I'm completely shocked, it's obvious you have heart and passion, but true guts to go along with that persona? i'm thinking the mud between your fingers might not be that big a deal for you after all. Thank you for your heart, you are truly a great American. We need more like you.


    1. Yes, many people are surprised when they find out I was an officer in the Air Force. I truly loved the experience!


  3. Jen, i know that if you had children and were called to leave them for your country, as much as you would never have wanted to leave them or Matt (or me), you would have done your duty. It’s just the kind of person you are. God is so amazing to give us what we need exactly when we need it. BUT, i am so very thankful you never had to leave us for duty overseas AND, i am so very thankful for the people that serve our wonderful country. They have a special place in my heart and prayers daily.


    1. Yes, you're right, and I said as much in my request to get out of the service; however, I really really really really really didn't want to stay in after Caleb was born.


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