What Veterans Day Means For Me, A Gold Star Wife

Family & Relationships
Jane Horton, widow of Spc. Christopher David Horton, guides members of the Golden State Warriors basketball team through section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery as a part of the National Basketball Association's partnership with the Department of the Defense called Commitment to Service Feb. 25, 2015.
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.


Then I met my husband-to-be, Chris, and fell in love with him right away — because he was a man of honor, integrity, and one who loved his country more than anything. He loved it enough to volunteer during war time to serve as a sniper — not because he hated what was in front of him, but because he loved what was behind him. And I loved him for it.

When the two uniformed officers knocked on my door on Sept. 9, 2011, just before his 27th birthday, to tell me Chris had been killed, it was completely devastating.

During Chris’ deployment, there were many nights I couldn’t sleep. It wasn’t just because of Chris, but because of all the American service members “over there” while I was sleeping in my suburban, middle-class, three-bedroom, two-bathroom home on a fluffy down pillow. They were fighting, and volunteered to do so, so I could continue the life I lived, and sleep in peace. Service members continue to fight, over and over again — deploying multiple times or serving at home.

After Chris’ death, the world didn’t know how to interact with me, or understand what he gave, and I watched how my more and more of my country didn’t understand our troops. And I still watch it today. The civilian-military divide is growing, and I can’t imagine what it is like to wade through a “new normal” with a country and population you fought to protect that doesn’t understand you.

Many service members are out of the service now, and going to school and starting new careers — feeling behind compared to those in our generation who chose not to go to war and instead reap the benefits that veterans fought for.

Veterans have come home to families who don’t recognize them, to face their own self in the mirror, to face their own pain, to know that they are not where they feel they should be in a world full of humans who like to dot Is and cross Ts, but don’t necessarily understand what is really important in life.

There is nothing in this world, or in this life more noble, and nothing in my life I am more grateful for than those who served our country — for what they have given, all they have sacrificed, and the years they spent fighting for my life and the lives of all Americans.

To everyone who has served, although this country may not understand you, and it may seem sometimes as if they forget what you gave, I remember.

And I will never forget.

As for my husband, I will spend the rest of my days honoring him, and remembering him. In each and every one service member, I see him, I see his spirit live on, and I see who he would have been. I see the good, the bad, and the hardships they have had to face.

From the deepest parts of my heart, I am grateful.

I will spend the rest of my life honoring our men and women in and out of uniform and engaging in the country they stood up and even bled for. Today, and every day, I remember them and thank them.

And, in my own way, I fight for them.

Army and Air Force Exchange Service officials are warning soldiers and military families to be aware of scammers using the Exchange's logo.

In a news release Wednesday, Exchange officials said scammers using the name "Exchange Inc." have "fooled" soldiers and airmen to broker the sale of used cars, trucks, motorcycles, boats and boat engines.

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KABUL (Reuters) - The Islamic State (IS) militant group claimed responsibility on Sunday for a suicide blast at a wedding reception in Afghanistan that killed 63 people, underlining the dangers the country faces even if the Taliban agrees a pact with the United States.

The Saturday night attack came as the Taliban and the United States try to negotiate an agreement on the withdrawal of U.S. forces in exchange for a Taliban commitment on security and peace talks with Afghanistan's U.S.-backed government.

Islamic State fighters, who first appeared in Afghanistan in 2014 and have since made inroads in the east and north, are not involved in the talks. They are battling government and U.S.-led international forces and the Taliban.

The group, in a statement on the messaging website Telegram, claimed responsibility for the attack at a west Kabul wedding hall in a minority Shi'ite neighborhood, saying its bomber had been able to infiltrate the reception and detonate his explosives in the crowd of "infidels".

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U.S. Air Force/Tech. Sgt. Brian Kimball

Editor's Note: This article by Oriana Pawlyk originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

Calling aviation geeks in New York City: The British are coming.

In their first visit to the United States since 2008, the Royal Air Force "Red Arrows" will perform an aerial demonstration next week over the Hudson River, according to an Air Force news release. F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, the Air Force Thunderbirds and Navy Blue Angels demonstration teams will also be part of the show.

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U.S. Air National Guard/Staff Sgt. Michelle Y. Alvarez-Rea

Frances and Efrain Santiago, natives of Puerto Rico, wanted to show their support last month for protesters back home seeking to oust the island's governor.

The couple flew the flag of Puerto Rico on the garage of their Kissimmee home. It ticked off the homeowners association.

Someone from the Rolling Hills Estates Homeowners Association left a letter at their home, citing a "flag violation" and warning: "Please rectify the listed violation or you may incur a fine."

Frances Santiago, 38, an Army veteran, demanded to know why.

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Todd Rosenberg/AP

A West Point graduate received a waiver from the U.S. Army to sign with the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday, and play in the NFL while serving as an active-duty soldier.

The waiver for 2nd Lt. Brett Toth was first reported by ESPN's Adam Schefter, who said that Toth signed a three-year deal with the Eagles. Toth graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 2018.

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