My Thanksgiving Story...

My Thanksgiving story. Even though Thanksgiving Day was as fleeting as the wind, I am still in a state of Giving Thanks.. #ArmyStrong

On Thanksgiving Day,  my hubby and I got up at 3:30 a.m. to drive to Fort Benning, to pick up our son, PFC Peters. We left at 5:00 a.m. and arrived in Colombus, Ga. around 8:00 a.m. Yes, our excitement caused us to be only an hour too early, so we stopped at a McDonalds, grabbed a biscuit and coffee before driving on to Fort Benning. When we arrived on the base, we were directed to the parking area, then, along with other families , we walked to a classroom where the Drill Sargeants, Captains and anybody of rank were waiting. At 9:00, these Officers explained exactly what our soldiers would and would not be allowed to do on their pass. Now, if you have never been on a base like Fort Benning, you probably can't imagine the amount of respect that these officers command. Their appearance alone will make you stand up straight, with eyes forward! I was completely in awe of the Officers- and a tad intimidated. There was a certain nervous excitement in the air. It was like being somewhere on the earth that has a totally different gravitational pull. I think we were all floating.

Finally, we were told we "could see our soldiers". We all went outside (trying to act normal- without breaking into a run). We walked around the building, and looking ahead, saw a Pavillion on a hill. There they were, our young soldiers, standing at attention and dressed to a tee... Suddenly, I was hyper-aware of the sounds- not the walking, but the sounds of moms quietly crying, trying not to be heard. The sounds of the drawing of breath, and the awes.. maybe i was also hearing myself... when suddenly a Drill Sargeant yelled something that snapped me back to reality... The following "sound offs" of the 4 different groups of soldiers gave me chills, & I distinctly heard the words "Rock Steady" being yelled. It was almost in stereo, even though each of the 4 groups had a different ‘sound off’ phrase. It pulls on a certain type of pride from the deep well of the soul- knowing that your child, who is now a man, is among this group. Yes, his group was the one who yelled "Rock Steady". Maybe it was a "mama thing" as to why it’s the phrase I heard... The Drill Sargeants dismissed them with a yell, and they all came toward us, coming down that hill, each one looking for family.

As I stood there, with weak-knees and teary eyes, watching young men go by, i finally spotted my boy. My Soldier. My pride and my joy.  It seemed like time almost stood still as he walked down that hill- and then he hugged me- in what seemed to be slow motion. Maybe it was the Great Spirit, putting it in slow-motion for me, so that I could absorb every ounce of this moment- in this time- and in this place.

Then, it was time for the Dads to hug their boys- their young soldier men. And do I even need to say that those tears - when a man cries- are the ones that will reach down into even the hardest of humans and pull on every single heart string... whew...

So, with much excitement and with our Soldier, we drove home, to where our family was waiting... Feeling truly blessed and feeling a pride that cannot be explained in words, I hung on every word he said on that 3 hour ride home. Later, as I watched our family gather around PFC Peters, and watched strangers, at stores come up to him and shake his hand, I began to think about all the moms before me and i whispered a question onto the wind.... How did they always seem to be so strong ? How did they handle the nervous feelings when your child leaves home- to promise to fight for their country. How did they always seem to "have it all together", when I felt like I could cry at any given second? Tears of pride and of joy, and some because my boy has seemed to grow up in a matter of only months... and the wind just blew...

Then, as suddenly as it came, the Thanksgiving weekend drew to a close and we had to return this young man Soldier, my baby,  back to Fort Benning. He is finished with B.C.T., now doing A.I.T and will be starting Airborne School in January..

Now, before we dropped PFC Peters off at his barracks, we stopped in at the PX supply store -as he needed more socks. Before checking out, I saw a "dog tag" -like the Soldiers wear- and it said "Army Mom", of course, I just had to have it, so we made our purchases and left.

I didn't want to say good-bye to my son, but since he is Squad leader, he said he wanted to be back before all the other guys.  When he got out of the truck, I did too- because I had to give him one more really sweet hug. And then, my Soldier boy walked away, smiling...

I felt like my heart had just fell out of my backpack, but I just picked up the pieces- got in the truck and we rode away... but I did leave that one piece behind. It was pretty quiet for Johnny and I, for a little bit, while driving away from Fort Benning.

But then I thought of my new Army Mom dog tags! I took it out of the packaging and admired my new treasure. I looked at the back of it and I was floored. It was the answer to the question that I had quietly spoken into the wind on Thanksgiving Day... about the moms before me... and I cried, yet again, because the inscription says:   1Corinthians 13:7-8 .. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, love never fails.... Shields of Strength...

Suddenly, it all made sense and  I understood how those Moms before me were able to hold their eyes to the sky with strength and confidence- no matter what.. I put the necklace on, for me...and for all the other moms.

Yes, another Thanksgiving Day has passed us by- just fleeting like the wind- but I am still in a state of giving thanks. For me, Thanksgiving is not over. Being Thankful is good.  I believe it's what makes us who we are and maybe it makes us stronger.

So, during this sparkly season and all the other seasons- Let's keep the Soldiers and their families in our hearts. Let's be Thankful everyday for our freedom and for our children. Every Soldier is somebody’s child.

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Sharon Swanepoel December 01, 2011 at 03:19 PM
What a great way to show us what we really need to be thankful for Melissa! Thank you and your family for being prepared to take on this service and reminding us that every soldier truly is somebody's child - or spouse or parent. Every soldier is somebody's personal sacrifice on our behalf.
GardenMagik ~ Melissa Allman December 01, 2011 at 03:58 PM
Its easy to forget about certain things when we are all in a hurry to put up the tree and shop. This was such a moving experience for me, so I just wanted to share. Thanks for the great comment. :)
Robyn Hudson December 01, 2011 at 03:59 PM
Hey Melissa, I am a Loganville mom with a son currently at Fort Benning. He will graduate from AIT on 12/9 so he is only a few weeks ahead of your son. Your experience was like reading my own. I am currently writing an Army manual for MOMS and would love to speak with you if you have time. I am calling it, "What's My M.O.S.? I'm the Mother Of a Soldier" randgh@bellsouth.net
Janet McIntosh December 01, 2011 at 04:02 PM
Beautifully written. I am a military spouse and I know how hard it can be every time they leave. Thank your son for his service and thank you for yours! I will keep your family in my prayers always! Hugs!
Melanie Newsome Cooksey December 02, 2011 at 02:04 PM
Beautiful! Thank you for sharing.
Heather December 02, 2011 at 02:18 PM
Thank you so much Melissa for sharing this story! I am crying, chills covering my body and I and filled with pride!
Georgina Conwell December 02, 2011 at 06:48 PM
Melissa, tears flow freely as your words reach in and stir inside my heart. What a great visual, it was as if I was sitting there beside you. I am so proud of him! Proud of you, for you raised such an amazing son. Thank you for sharing and reminding us of god's love, a mother's love and a son's love for his country. I am grateful just to know the three of you.
Cori December 05, 2011 at 07:50 PM
I love u Melissa...............this story has given me chills, but in a fabulous way;) I look up to you and I know that with my boys I could be in your same situtation. My favorite part to this story is that God answered your question, and you know that a lot of times we ask question but never listen for the answer and you did..You are my inspiration :) So thankful that we have meet..love Cori ann............
GardenMagik ~ Melissa Allman December 07, 2011 at 02:27 PM
Robyn, It's been wonderful talking with you- and a blessing!
GardenMagik ~ Melissa Allman December 07, 2011 at 02:28 PM
Thanks Janet! Hugs and prayers for you and your family as well!
GardenMagik ~ Melissa Allman December 07, 2011 at 02:30 PM
Thanks so much Melanie! :)
GardenMagik ~ Melissa Allman December 07, 2011 at 02:30 PM
We love yall Heather! Thanks so much for reading this...
GardenMagik ~ Melissa Allman December 07, 2011 at 02:31 PM
Thanks Gina! We love yall! Go USA!
GardenMagik ~ Melissa Allman December 07, 2011 at 03:49 PM
Thank you Cori Ann! So true, we should always listen for an answer... I love you too girly...


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