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Army Strong – but what does it mean?

Submitted by on Monday, 1 November 2010 No Comment

Boots was bent on sniveling his way through the airport the night we went to pick up Dad for the start of R&R when I decided I’d heard enough.

“I know you’re tired, babes. But you need to be Army Strong. Daddy will be here soon,” I said.

A woman who overhead turned to glare at me. Maybe she has issues with the military or maybe she thought it was inappropriate for me to tell a 5-year-old (who, granted, looks much younger than his age) to, in essence, “tough it up.”

Even I’ll admit that it sounds a bit cold if you don’t know Boots, who often turns on Armageddon-like tears when he’s exhausted, stubborn or simply out of sorts.  It always looks worse than it is with him.

But what the airport-glarer didn’t know is that, for us, Army Strong is about far more than physical skills. It’s about more than mental toughness, too, for that matter.

Our definition of Army Strong is based on acknowledging  when something is less than ideal – but then dealing with the less-than-ideal anyway. It’s just like I told Boots at the airport. “I know you’re tired” – but you need to hang in there.

We’re Army Strong when we admit that it stinks to not have the whole family around for important days but then create news ways to incorporate everyone in celebrations. It might be by baking Dad birthday brownies to ship to Afghanistan or by freezing pieces of the guys’ birthday cakes for him to eat when he gets home .

We’re Army Strong when we admit late at night that we miss Dad – and sometime cry about that. “Strong” doesn’t mean we dam up emotions. We let them out so we can deal with them rather than wait for festering pain to slap us in the face later.

We’re Army Strong when we pick up the slack on things that Dad would do if he were here. Not that carving a jack-o-lantern is a herculean task. For Big Guy, though, it was an important one because it allowed him to step up and fill a void.

We’re Army Strong when we realize that sometimes we need to lean on others, whether it’s neighbors who let Big Guy tag along on trick-or-treating after Boots poops out or a friend who offers to fetch pain medication for a fevered Big Guy. Army of One? That’s soooooo 2001, and it wasn’t true then either.

We’re Army Strong because we’re resilient. We take our licks on a daily basis – expect them, even – but get up to keep soldiering on.

It’s really a simple concept – so simple, in fact, that Big Guy gets it.

“I’ll miss you, but I’ll be Army Strong until you come home,” he wrote in a letter he hid in his Dad’s backpack on the last night of R&R.

That pretty much sums it up.

Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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