Within every aspect of the military, someone makes a sacrifice. Every day. Sometimes they are small, and sometimes they are the ultimate sacrifice. Each one is significant in its own way. Each one means something different to each individual person. Each one is meaningful. Each one is important.
Every service member gives up parts of their lives we often take for granted. They leave their families due to training, deployments, or a number of other reasons. Things are put on hold for months. They often have to give up the comfort of their own bed, home cooked meals, and time to themselves. They do this without question or hesitation. They don't think about the sacrifices they have to make--they do what is asked of them, what is needed of them.
Military families have a whole different level of sacrifices they make. Most of them didn't choose this life, you can't really decide who you fall in love with. Many didn't come from military life in the first place, so they had to learn this life as it happened. They give up weekends and holidays while their loved ones are gone. They give up hours of sleep while they sit up worrying. They often have to pick up and move with little protest. They have to work as single parents, event planners, personal chefs, drivers, and maid services to their family, all while worrying about their loved one on the other side of the world.
This summer, my soldier and I have had to make sacrifices of our own. Some were small. Some we did without thinking twice. But there were a few sacrifices that were hard to make.
I gave up my summer vacation this year. I'm taking a full load of courses just so I can graduate earlier. I gave up living at the beach for a few months. I gave up my normal summer job that I love. I opted out of a family vacation. I did all of this so my soldier and I could be together both this summer and in the near future.
But there were other plans for my soldier. He left today for a very long training session. Something I am still not familiar with. He gave up all of our plans we made for this summer. He gave up our weekend getaways to the lake. He gave up going to a concert he already bought us tickets for months ago. He gave up the potential of being there when my niece is born. He gave up our plans for formal.
Along with all of these plans, he is giving up his personal space. He is giving up his sleep, his time to be alone. He is giving up his mental and physical strength while pushing his body to its limits. He did this without question - because it is what was asked of him.
I said goodbye to him in the only college apartment of mine he has known. I watched him drive away from me for what could be two weeks or four months. When he gets back, I will be in a new place for us to make new memories in. We will be well into our engagement. I will have become an aunt.
I gave up my holiday to spend a few hours with him. I spent it in a deserted college town. I packed up odds and ends and printed off pictures. I did what I could to keep myself busy. But I can't help but think of where I normally would be tonight; on the beach, surrounded by friends and family, waiting to watch the fireworks of the coast of my hometown.
Tonight there will be no fireworks. No friends, no family. Tonight I will go to bed in a bare apartment and get ready for my classes that start up tomorrow morning. Tonight I will be stuck between how my summers were once spent back home, and how they will be spent starting a year from now when I am married. Tonight I will be made aware that we all make sacrifices, and they are all important.