Heroes Out of Uniform

Have you ever had someone buy you a meal? Someone anonymous that you didn’t know…just doing a good deed for the sake of humanity? I have. I can tell you that its a wonderful feeling. 
 
A few weeks ago, however, it happened to my family and I was FURIOUS. Let me lay out the scenario. My husband is in the Army Reserves. He works full time (sometimes more than 40 hours a week) and then one weekend a month and two weeks a year he has Battle Assembly. Battle Assembly sounds like something from G.I. Joe, but that really is what they call it. It means that once a month, there is no light at the end of the tunnel for Mom. Its hard for both of us. Adrian is tired of working and misses his family. I get weary feeling like a single parent. 
 
During his week long trip to Fort Riley, I had decided to take the kids out for dinner. My 5 year old had earned a free meal at a restaurant from her school for reading tons of books and she was anxious to turn it in and get her reward! We sat down and were surprised when Adrian called to say that he was off early and would meet us where we were! We hadn’t seen him in a week so we were all excited.
 
The light!
 
The tunnel!
 
He didn’t have time to swing by the house and change out of his uniform. My husband is the most humble and reserved man I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. He does not like going anywhere in uniform because it earns him unwanted attention. He isn’t in the Army to parade it around town, he’s in the Army because he’s a warrior and a servant. But he hadn’t seen us in a week so he joined us for dinner wearing his uniform.  
 
That’s when the rage began to build. A parade of people walked by and patted him on the back and thanked him for his service. The waiter told us about his Dad who had been in the service, and he was thinking about joining the Army. Someone paid for our dinner! It was very kind and appreciated. BUT. 
 
I had been sitting in that restaurant for 20 minutes with my two children by myself. I had been gripping the last strand of my own sanity, desperately holding on for another three hours before bed time. My children were not misbehaving, but any mother will tell you that a sit down restaurant with young children takes grit. My grit was wearing thin at this point in the week. No one paid for my meal. No one glanced my way. No one thanked me for my service! My rage is tied to the fact that I am out of uniform since having my daughter and giving up my military career. A decision which, if given the chance, I would make again and again and again…for our family. For my children. But on days like this one, it does have a special kind of sting. 
 
My rage was tied to the fact that had my husband not been in his uniform and sat with us… we would have paid for our meal and gone home without appreciation or accolades from anyone. 
 
I do my job everyday, with little attention or gratitude. I’m not asking for a parade. What I’m asking is for you, the readers, to pay attention. To see everyone around you…not just those in uniform…who serve our community selflessly everyday and maybe buy them a meal. 
 
Many of our everyday heroes don’t wear uniforms. They deserve our respect, too. 

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