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Our Bittersweet Independence Day

With little more than 2 1/2 months remaining in Brian’s Air Force career, we have both been hit with the realization that this is not just a job we’re leaving. We’re not merely moving to a new city or a different house. We’re leaving behind a lifestyle. We’re saying goodbye to a community that we’ll never really be a part of again. Sure, Brian is and always will be a veteran, but there’s a different camaraderie amongst active duty service members and their families.

And while this change is 100% what we want for our marriage and for our kids, the bitter part of the bittersweetness hit us both last Friday night like a ton of bricks.

Or like 50 cannon blasts and an amazing fireworks display. 

Ft. Leavenworth cannons It’s funny. Someone says “July 4th Celebration,” and the Army says, “Cool. How much crap can we blow up for it?”

So, we packed up the 3 kiddos around 7 p.m. on Friday the 4th and headed over to a part of Fort Leavenworth called Merritt Lake. It’s a gorgeous part of the post that we have enjoyed during our time here, and it’s the perfect setting for an Independence Day celebration. As we drove the two miles or so from our home on post to the lake, I asked Brian to pull over the car at the cemetery so that I could take some photos.

Ft. Leavenworth cemetery

I’ve always been drawn to military cemeteries and to this one in particular. I suppose it is the uniformity and vastness of the pure white headstones that compel me to photograph them. Or maybe it’s the way the cemetery divides the working parts of the post from the housing areas — almost like a necessary, daily reminder to those who took an oath to defend our nation and those of us who support them at home.

A service member doesn’t always have the luxury of leaving work “at the office.” I often see veterans on post whose war-torn bodies are a sobering reminder of that fact.

I’m in awe of our brave service members. I’m grateful for their many, many sacrifices.

Ft. Leavenworth cemetery

I’m proud to have been a part of the military “family” for nearly 9 years.

I’m not crying; my contacts are bothering me.

As soon as we arrived at Merritt Lake, I forced all 3 children to participate in obligatory family photos before they were allowed to jump on the bouncy castles, throw rocks in the pond, or smear barbecue sauce all over their clothes (and mine).

Our Bittersweet 4th of July

 

Our Bittersweet 4th of July

 

Our Bittersweet 4th of July

 

4th_15

 

Our Bittersweet 4th of July

And because we rarely get photos of all of us, I asked my good friend and neighbor, Judi, if she would capture all of us together.

Our Bittersweet 4th of July

The kids were relatively patient considering the fact that it was already past their bedtime when we started taking these photos.

Can you tell?

Our Bittersweet 4th of July

(Note: Read this post if you’re wondering who the third child is in all our photos.)

Fort Leavenworth put on quite a show with live music, bouncy castles, great food, and a 50-cannon salute to the individual states in our nation. This was all before the spectacular, grand finale fireworks display over the lake.

Our Bittersweet 4th of July Our Bittersweet 4th of July

 

Our Bittersweet 4th of July

Of course, not everyone was so thrilled with the “patriotic” AC/DC cover songs, cannon blasts, and fireworks, but they made it through with minimal emotional scarring.

Our Bittersweet 4th of July

 

Our Bittersweet 4th of July

 

Our Bittersweet 4th of July

I’m not so sure about my strong and sensitive service member, though. Brian admitted that he had to fight off a lump in his throat during the National Anthem. And I was pretty sure I noticed some moisture in his eyes while they played the Air Force song during the fireworks display.

Our Bittersweet 4th of July

Brian doesn’t wear contacts, so he can’t deny it.

It’s strange. We’re both so excited to leave and, yet, we’re so sad to go.

I suppose it’s fitting that this was our final military event before Brian enters the civilian realm. I can’t think of a better way to commemorate his time in the service than with our little family together, thanking God for the men and women who did/do fight for our freedom, and watching some people blow some stuff up over a lake.

‘Merica.

I can’t wait to see what God has in store for us in this next chapter of our lives, and I’d be honored if you all came along with us . . . to wherever it is that we’re going.

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Comments to "Our Bittersweet Independence Day"

  1. Dona

    July 9, 2014

    Beautiful post, beautiful family. As long as you post, I’ll be travelin’ right along with you….like an unwanted stalker!

    • Katy in a Corner

      July 9, 2014

      Is there such thing as a wanted stalker? 😉 Dona, you’ve been a huge encouragement to me, and I’m happy to have you virtually come along with us.

  2. PappyJack

    July 9, 2014

    Nice post. Leaving family is tough, I know. I feel for you guys just thinking about it myself. I know God’s will will be in effect. I pray that will goes along with what you guys want to do! Love y’all! Thanks for all you have shared from this perspective over the years. I’ve enjoyed them and my dad has made no secret that he is now a huge fan himself.

    PappyJack (Joey)

    • Katy in a Corner

      July 9, 2014

      Awwwww. Thanks, Joey! We’re thrilled that we will soon be closer to family, God willing.

  3. Brian's mom

    July 9, 2014

    I’m not crying; my contacts are bothering me….

  4. Julie

    July 9, 2014

    I AM crying regardless of the contacts cemented to my eyeballs. I am SO SO SO SO SO SO thankful God brought your little family to my corner of the world for the past year or so. I feeeeeeel as though I have known you guys all my life and it is certain I will never forget you and the impact you have made on those you have chosen to share you lives and story with.
    Your service to ‘Merica is appreciated by this (former) Air Force Mama and sadly, you are right, it is not the same as being active duty.
    May God bless you and keep you, may He makes His face shine down upon you and give you blessing upon blessing.
    Love you guys.
    Jul

    • Katy in a Corner

      July 9, 2014

      Julie, you have a very special place in my heart, and you always will. I honestly believe that God brought us to this place so that we could meet you. Let’s stay in touch, sweet friend. Love you!!!

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