When my husband of 25 years calmly told me that there is not really a place for spouse recognition in the retirement ceremony, I'll admit, I was a bit surprised. He wanted to know if they did recognize me, would I even have anything to say?
As far as I was concerned, it was a retirement for OUR entire family. This is the letter I wrote to him that I want to share with you, just in case you're feeling the same way.
To my husband,
I'm retiring from the Navy, too. Today I want you to recognize the accomplishments, the trust, the friendship, the humor we had that made your career, our marriage and our life possible.
We had opportunity and growth. We changed, compromised and dedicated ourselves to the Navy and to our family. We socialized with the best, the average and the worst of people.
We adjusted to deployments and homecomings. We raised our boys to be responsible, loving and caring individuals who are very uniquely different but very much the same.
We argued, fought, disagreed, caved and stood firm for what we believed. Yet we always came together.
We struggled, prospered and educated ourselves to provide a stable environment for our family.
We explored and adjusted to military life. We moved, traveled and started over.
There were no mountains high enough to stop us from climbing.
Our children adapted to changing schools, leaving friends and meeting new ones. We did so willingly, not kicking and screaming.
The kids and I watched you grow, advance and share your knowledge with those around you. There were reviews, midnight calls and unexpected deployments. We watched you develop and then develop others.
We instilled values, morals and ethics in one another as well as our children. We created traditions, experienced vacations and we loved and cherished one another.
We did not go through life, we lived it, we grew from it and we experienced it. The military made many things possible. The Navy taught us unity. We embraced it and had FUN doing it.
Going forward, I want you to cherish all of those memories.
Remember the good times; do not focus on the negative. Remember what the military instilled in you, the respect you give others, the work ethics embedded and give credit where credit is due. Take that with you in whatever you do.
It's not what you GO through; it's what you GROW through. I know you will achieve whatever you put your mind to. Know that I am proud of you. Know that I want the best for you. Just like you, the Navy, our life together, our family, is all I know. Change is good. Embrace it.
On your day, my day and our children's day, I want you to remember.
Remember that we laughed and we danced. We stood together as a family. We were one. We stuck together through good and bad times. We supported one another and we were happy. It was your passion, your drive and your dedication encompassed with the support of your family that made your career a success.
Today, your retirement is about us. We together accomplished this as a family. Recognize it, own it and give credit to the ones who loved, supported, and stood by you while you provided the very freedom we have today.
We were one and together we will retire. I want you to relish this moment, to feel honorable, a sense of accomplishment, to reflect back and remember and then I want you to exhale.
I want you to enjoy your day, our day. Congratulations!!!! You deserve it, and so do we. I truly am so happy for you and I will always love you.
--Donna Weathers is a Navy wife currently living in Virginia Beach. Her husband Mark served 30 years in the US Navy and is a Master Chief in Damage Control.
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