Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Military Spouse of the Year Luncheon

"You never know how strong you are, until being strong is the only choice you have."

It’s rare in life that I am rendered almost completely speechless however during the last three days at the Military Spouse of the Year Luncheon and Summit it happened… more than once.

I arrived in Washington DC late Wednesday evening, due to weather delays, and was dying to see the USMC War Memorial so at midnight we headed over to see this beautiful Memorial erected of the flag raising at Iwo Jima dedicated to all Marines who have served. Breathtaking is the best word to describe it. I’m sure in the daylight it is beautiful as well but at night with all of the lights shining up at it highlighted every piece of this iconic statue. I stood there admiring the words on the Memorial, conflicts and wars we have fought it and thought of the many Marines I know; I am honored to know them as they are part of our fighting force that has stood on battle fields worldwide willing to die for our freedoms. On that I headed to the hotel and headed to bed – big day on Thursday

Thursday morning, admittedly I was so excited that I barely slept, was a frenzy of excitement. I was meeting a Marine spouse, Amber, for a ride to Fort Myer for the Military Spouse of the Year Luncheon. It was at this luncheon they would be announcing the 2013 Military Spouse of the Year and it was also a time for us to get to know the 6 branch winners a little better. Fort Myer is just next to Arlington National Cemetery and the USMC Memorial – driving past Arlington at 11am just stopped my breath as I know so many men buried there and the families that miss them. I had already googled the branch winners, and boy was I impressed. These 6 women were already winners in my book and I was so glad they were representing me for the next year. Karen Guenther, the Marine Spouse of the Year is the founder of the Semper Fi Fund and Tara Crooks, the Army Spouse of the Year is the creator of the Army Wife Network that is a sounding board for MANY Army wives. Then there is Alicia, the first National Guard Spouse of the Year who is ready to make sure the world sees the struggles of our National Guard and Reserve families, Alicia the Navy Spouse of the Year is working on Suicide Awareness and Prevention in the military. Verince, the Air Force Spouse of the Year who is dedicated to spouse resiliency through the Strength for Spouses Program and lastly Shelly is the Coast Guard Spouse of the Year who works with and supports Blue Star Families of America.

See what I mean, these women are AMAZING. Alicia Hinds Ward, National Guard Spouse of the Year was named the 2013 Military Spouse of the Year and I couldn’t be more excited or proud. She is sweet, gracious, funny and a wonderful National Guard Spouse.

After the luncheon I met up with a new friend, Alina a National Guard wife from Colorado and headed to the National Mall. When we stepped off the Metro at the Smithsonian it was POURING rain… it was at this point we decided that the clouds would break soon so off we went to see the sights, without an umbrella. About 20 minutes after we began walking the rain finally quit, although we were already soaking wet we had a wonderful time. Walking along the Vietnam War Memorial seeing the notes that had been left, the flowers at the Korean War Memorial and walking the steps of both the Lincoln Memorial and Thomas Jefferson Memorial were moments that had a different meaning to us than so many others there. We both shed tears at each war memorial honoring those lives that came before our husbands and the lives lost for our country.

I got to spend Thursday night with a great friend and Gold Star Wife. There are days that all you need are a few moments with a good friend to make everything ok – Patty is that friend. We giggled and talked for a few hours, headed to bed and I felt fulfilled…. Well that and the great hugs from her kids, whom I love!

Proud to be representing my state as both Mrs California International & California Military Spouse of the Year!
On stage before the luncheon
The steps of the Lincoln Memorial

The WWII Memorial for residents of Washington DC

Arlington National Cemetary from the gate at Fort Myer

Left at the Vietnam War Memorial

Tokens of love and gratitude left at the Vietnam War Memorial

The Reflection Pool from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial

The words on the Korean War Memorial - Never forget the cost of war
Sunset over the Potomac River from the steps of the Thomas Jefferson Memorial
I will post my Friday and photos tomorrow... too much for one post!

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