U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Daniel Hinton
Growing up, I was always was in awe of those who served in the military, even though I wasn’t related to anyone who did. My appreciation grew when I was in high school, when 9/11 happened. I spent much of my free time then volunteering at the local USO, sending letters, and packing care packages for those who volunteered to go to take the fight to enemy, trying in my own way as a high school student to understand the gravity of it all.
Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.
In the eight years that her husband deployed repeatedly to Iraq and Afghanistan, she learned to be good at not having him around. So when the knock came to tell her that Sgt. 1st Class Anthony Venetz wouldn’t make it back from Afghanistan that last time, she was prepared, even in her grief, to pick up the pieces.
Rachel Richardson’s husband Jonathan was killed in action on March 9, 2010, in Afghanistan. Because he was a soldier with the 101st Airborne Division, she still gets invited every year to the unit’s ball.
A little over a month ago, I made the journey of a lifetime that I never really knew if I would actually get to take. I had hope, and I had faith, but I didn't know if it would actually happen. After all, it had never been done before. It was such a dream come true that I am still processing it, I think my mind still feels as if it was just that — a dream.