This 4th of July was the 3rd one that hubby and I have been in a relationship over, but the first one we've actually been able to spend together. July 4, 2008 he was in California training for deployment. July 4, 2009 he was in Afghanistan working hard so I and everyone else in the US could enjoy our 4th of July freedom. This year he was home and with me. We had a 4 day weekend and spent a couple of days at an amusement part and then a couple of days at the lake with my family.
Since meeting hubby and especially since his return from deployment all holidays seem to carry more weight. Hubby enjoys the holidays and the time off from work, but his mind is constantly thinking of those soldiers who are deployed and not at home to enjoy the holidays with their family. Patriotic holidays are the worst. They are a curse and a blessing for him right now (and for me too). On one hand, there is a much greater understanding of what American freedom means and how great the cost was and is, but on the other hand hubby struggles with guilt that he is here enjoying that freedom while others are constantly risking their lives overseas. Next 4th of July he will again be serving in Afghanistan (boo for me), and he is able to understand that this is his time home to rest and retrain. When he goes back over, the guys there now will have their time home to rest and get ready to go back. Everything he does at work now revolves around deploying again. He rarely has out of site out of mind moments (like most of us do) about the war that is still raging in the Middle East. In fact, the only times I ever see hubby tear up are when he's talking about deployed soldiers - during the toast at our wedding on Memorial Day weekend and talking to me during the fireworks show 4th of July night. He struggles not to get frustrated by how little people actually know and understand about what's going on. He gets that it's because so many are just no exposed to the war or much information about it on a regular basis, so he works hard to keep things in perspective and be gracious, but I know patriotic holidays are extra hard for him.
While I am now walking this road with him and I have a much greater and personal understanding of all the sacrifices and danger involved, I also realize I do not walk this road at the same level he does, and I'm working hard to be supportive and find ways that help him express whatever he feels without feeling judged or told to "get over it."
Thinking about this situation with him the past couple of days has gotten me thinking about how so many of us walk our own war and battles (either with memories or current dangerous situations) and most of society has no clue the toll it's taking on you or others you know who are fighting the same battle. If you're blessed, you have a spouse, family, or friends who do their best to understand and be supportive... and who may even get things to an extent as they walk through life with you, but no one can really understand it like you do, and those that come the closest to understanding are the ones who have walked or are walking the same battles.
In some ways I feel like hubby and I are both fighting "quieted" wars. His is sometimes in the media and uses weapons and explosives, but the majority of the world has no clue as to what things are really like. Only those I tell know about my war and it seems the overall war against fighting sexual abuse and assault is one that is pushed under the carpet too much b/c it's too heinous to think that people are actually that perverted and cruel. But I know my struggles, I see my friends' struggles and it is all very real.... Just as real as the war in the Middle East... and no matter how much the general population may want to ingore both, they are happening and affecting a larger number of people than I think anyone can imagine.
On a personal level, my prayers that hubby and I can continue to learn how to best support each other in our battles and also reach out to those in similar circumstances as us and offer support and encouragment as well.