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    Posted March 15, 2014 by
    Siloam Springs, Arkansas
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Salute to families

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    The True Heroes

    After serving 21+ years in the Army, I can say without reservation that the families of the ones serving are the true heroes, in my opinion.

    Yes, I know what a hero really is, I have served with them, I have held their head while they were dying, I have saluted them at awards ceremonies, I have had the honor of participating in the Burial Detail at their funerals. We all know them and honor their sacrifice. This is about the "unsung heroes".

    The mother or father left behind with children facing terrible uncertainty daily; the children not able to comprehend (if they are young) why "Daddy" or "Mommy" can't be here for their kindergarten graduation, their first concert, their birthday, etc.

    The parents who pray nightly for the safety of their child who is in harm's way serving this country on land, sea, and in the air.

    The siblings wondering if "Big Brother" or "Sis" will come home and if they do, will they be OK after seeing the horrors of war, the absolute insanity that we call "combat". Will they still be the brother or sister that left them, or will they be changed physically or traumatized with invisible scars.

    Yes, I spent 21+ years in uniform serving proudly, but what many outside the military community fail to realize is my family ALSO served just as much as I did and without them, without their love, their support, and their courage, I could not have done my job to the best of my ability.

    Here's to my heroes:

    To my wife of 40 years (40 years on 3/16/14 to be exact) You are the best! From the moment I laid eyes on you back in high school in 1969 and told my best friend Steve "That's the girl I'm going to marry" to this day, you have been my life, my love, my rock, and most importantly...my friend.

    To my son - Chris, you have made me so proud. I remember holding you the minute after your birth wondering if I could be a father after never knowing mine (he died when I was two). After seeing you grow and mature into the man, husband, and father you are today, I must have done a few things right; hopefully I passed on some wisdom to you in childrearing. Remember the good, forget the bad, and know that I love you as no other.

    To my daughter - Kelli, from the second you were born, I knew I would never let another man take you from me and I would defend this little beauty with my life...or so I thought until you found "your" guy and the love of your life. It was so hard letting you "fly", but fly you did. From my gawky little girl to the stunningly beautiful woman you are today boldly going your own course in life, you have honored both your mother and me and we could not be prouder of you.

    Yes, my family served just as much as I did. No, they did not dress in the uniform, they did not carry a weapon or first aid kit, they did not go where no man or woman should have to go, but serve they did on the home front and THAT is what kept me going.

    I love you, Terri, Chris, and Kelli.

    1 - Graduation
    2 - My Retirement
    3 - The kids when young
    4 - The kids today
    5 - Chris today
    6 - Kelli today
    7 - Wife and me present time
    8 - My final uniform
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