When the kids were here last month, it wasn’t for wild road trips through Europe, it was for Dave’s official retirement from the US Army after more than 30 years of service. While we held the ceremony a little early, his actual retirement date is September 30. There is an awful lot of paperwork and steps and rules and regulations and hoops to jump through before his service ends, but we wanted to celebrate with as much of our family as we could. We were blessed that almost all our kids were there, Nicholas unfortunately had to work, and both my parents. We did manage to Facetime most of the ceremony for Dave’s parents and Nick. Yay for technology!
That Friday was a beautiful, sunny, not-too-warm afternoon. Two of my photography students, and Dane, served as our official photographers, putting their new-found skills to work. We were lucky enough to hold our ceremony outdoors, on a covered patio on base under the American flag, the Army flag and our host-nations, Germany, flag.
The Retirement Ceremony opened with the national anthem, a beautiful prayer by our base chaplain, and speeches by several of Dave’s Colonels. Speeches not just about Dave’s wonderfulness and long, distinguished service but also about us. About me. About the kids. An official acknowledgement of our silent service. There are many wonderful things about being an Army family, especially the opportunity to see the world, but it is not an easy life. The moves. The goodbye’s. The friends and family that come and go. The loneliness. It is hard. It is challenging. It is a little overwhelming to be thanked for just being us.
Dave had warned me that I too would get awards. I wasn’t surprised when I was called up to receive my awards, or my letter from the President, but I was shaking in my boots all the same. I knew every face in the room. Still, standing in front of them all while being praised is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I got the nervous giggles a little bit and I couldn’t wait to sit back down.
What I didn’t know was that Dave was going to give a speech. To thank his command. To thank his country. To thank his fellow soldiers. But mostly, again, to thank us. He thanked each of us. One by one. He gave each of us a gift, a token of his appreciation. And that was good. It felt wonderful. Until he got to Christian. Our Marine. Our beautiful boy. He got to Christian and his voice cracked. He thanked Christian for his service and he thanked God for bringing Christian back home to us. Safe. Alive.
A sob escaped me, and I could hear my mom, my friend, the Colonel’s wife, and Tess choke back sobs of their own. There were dark days when Chris was deployed, when we weren’t sure he’d make it home. The news played 24/7 in our house during his deployment(s). Sometimes that was good, sometimes that was bad. Hearing Dave acknowledge the pain we’d felt. The pride. The overwhelming joy when Chris finally came home, with tears in his voice, it was too much.
Serving our country has been a huge source of pride for Dave, for me, for all of us. We believe in the United States. Her freedoms. Her opportunities. It has been an Honor to serve as one of her Military families. Thank you Dave for everything you have done for our country and our family. I am looking forward to the next chapter in our life.
Thank you for standing behind your man, that kind of service is very valuable.
Thank you Dave for your service! Also a special thank you to Christian as well. And to you and your children/families for supporting them and our country! Bless you all. Loved your post – thank you for sharing with us.
Such a wonderful day for you all. My dad retired from the US Army after 26 years of service, so this ceremony brings back so many memories for me. Thank you for sharing. And thank you to Dave and Christian for serving our beloved nation. We all know freedom isn’t free.
Congratulations on your husband’s service and well-deserved retirement, and the dedication you have for his service to our country. We thank you both. You, and people like you, are part of what make this country great and special. Blessings to you and your beautiful family.
My son Eric served in the US Navy for 28 years and retired four years ago. As a military family we too were grateful for his service and faced the same challenges of concern for his safety, missing him during family events and holidays, wondering where he was and how he was doing during special ops, and sharing in his achievements as he obtained his college degree and moved up through the ranks to Master Diver. Every serviceman deserves the love and support of their family and country — Dave was fortunate to have both. Congratulations.
Thank you all for your service to our county! Your post reminded me of my Hubby’s retirement ceremony from the Air Force. I remember the nerves I had when being asked to come forward and be honored too. Hope your future is wonderful and that retirement treats you all well!
Blessings and congratulations to your family. Thank you (your entire extended family, because you all have served our country) for your service. May your family continue to enjoy each and every day! Thanks for sharing your journey with us.
Toiny I can only imagine the joys and the sorrows of being in a military family. By you sharing with us about your life and your family I have gain a better understanding and appreciation for Dave’s, Christian’s and indeed all of your family’s service to our great country. The words “Thank you” don’t seem enough to convey my appreciation for your family’s service. May the Lord bless you all and protect you in all your future endeavors.
Your words and pics brought tears to my eyes. Thanks to your husband for his 30+ years of service. And thanks to your extraordinary military family for your years of service and sacrifice, too. I feel as though I know you all from reading your posts and seeing your photos. Wishing you all the very best in the years to come in your new civilian life!!
Thanks to Dave and Christian for their direct service to our country, and to the rest of the family for their unyielding support. What a great sendoff!
Toiny, your beautiful and descriptive writing shows such love and emotion that I am often amazed at your openness and the depth of feeling you share. This retirement experience was no exception. I also got tears in my eyes from your pride and love for your husband and his service. Your descriptions of the joys and worries of military life show a side of life I have never experienced. I am sure you personally deserved all the kind words said about you and your family.
Thank you for sharing your family with all of us. Thanks to Dave for his 30 years of service to his country. Thank you to your Marine for his service. Thank you to your family for supporting these men and the sacrifices you have made. I think it is wonderful that the Army also awards the family of the serviceman with recognition, so well deserved. God bless you and your family as you will soon begin the next phase of your life, whatever you choose for that to be.
Thank you for sharing Toiny, very special tribute to Dave and your family. You are a blessing!
Thank you Dave, Toiny and your whole family for your service. It’s so nice that you and the kids were also honored for your service, and serve you have, even if you aren’t officially enlisted.