While growing up, we never really celebrated Veterans Day, because it was the day after the Marine Corps birthday. My mom would put on a formal gown and my dad would wear his dress blues, and they would go off to celebrate with fellow Marines and their spouses – “The Few, The Proud, The Marines.”
Even though we celebrated the Marine Corps birthday once a year, every day was Veterans Day in our home. My dad never missed an opportunity to instill in us that the Marine Corps was responsible for the roof over our heads. We knew how to stand at attention and stand at ease.
When I was about 8 years old, my dad returned from Vietnam after two years of serving there, and we immediately started packing to move to Virginia from Yuma, Arizona. My dad had moved us to Yuma because there was a Marine base there, and my Uncle Wil and family lived there; and, my Dad wanted us close to both while he was gone. Back then there wasn’t a great deal of support for military families; my mother went through great emotional hardship while my dad was in Vietnam, and I know that military families still struggle with long separations and wondering when they will be reunited with their loved ones.
We were used to moving every few years, and the move to Virginia was no different. What the movers didn’t take we packed in the powder blue Rambler station wagon and headed east. That always included at least one dog and some combination of turtles or fish. Wherever we lived, my dad would ensure that we visited all the area historical sites, and we always spent a great deal of time hiking, fishing, or walking on the beach. He was raised on a farm, and his deep respect for the environment was a constant lesson for us; while my mom taught us all she could about taking care of ourselves and our home, and was fierce about our schoolwork.
Thus was my life as the daughter of a Marine. I’m used to change. I attended 13 public schools before graduating from Highland High School in Albuquerque’s SE Heights. Each time we packed up to move, I left the friends I had made and hit the road with my parents and siblings. We are close as a result, and I wouldn’t change any of my time with my military family, if given the chance.
This Veterans Day, I honor the Veterans who have chosen to live the way my dad did for 30 years of his life, and I also recognize the families of our Veterans who have made tremendous sacrifices for the good of our country. Thank you, all, for your service.