A few weeks ago when I checked the junk box in my email, I found a message that kind of knocked me over. It was from an officer in the Navy down in Florida, inviting me to play the national anthem at an important military ceremony. Turns out he had found my recording of The Star-Spangled Banner on iTunes. I think he was as surprised that I responded as I was that he had written (see my first sentence above)!
Long story short, I just got back from that amazing ceremony in Florida and want to post a few highlights:
During the sound check the room was being prepared for the event, so I got to play for all the folks setting up chairs and placing table cloths and place settings as a warm up. A very moving slide show was shown while I played - I could not even glance at the screens or that would have been the end of the music, it was such an emotional presentation. So, yeah, my eyes were closed...
The remarkable people who made this such a memorable night - talk about heart - wow. From start to finish, during the program and dinner we laughed and cried and laughed til we cried! Throughout the night we honored military traditions, but much more importantly, we honored the reason the military members do what they do.
The guest speaker was a Wounded Warrior, a true hero, who would tell you he was just doing his job, and that he would do it all again. He recounted several incidents of extreme suffering and personal sacrifice, but was able to come to the conclusion each time, "I'm a lucky guy." I can't tell you how inspiring this was to me. Perspective, perseverance, courage, resilience, commitment, and a huge heart. I wish every American could meet him.
A perfect night out on the terrace - palm trees, boats on the river, balmy air - so lovely!
Dinner was absolutely delicious, and my only regret was that I didn't have room to finish all my dessert.
Another unexpected, unforgettable experience: when the Commander shook my hand at the end of the night, she put her Commander's coin in the palm of my hand. I was totally stunned! It's a really special honor to receive one even as a military member, but I never dreamed I would be given one as a military spouse! So many things about this trip felt truly once in a lifetime.
One of the sweetest moments came at the very end of the program, when a toast was made to the family members of our military. The tribute made me cry (again) because they gave our boys and I a new title: "Angel Warriors."
This is what I hope I'll remember each time I'm asked to sacrifice in support of my husband's military service - and the next time I don't update my blog for a year because we've moved again and I've lost my groove - that if Wounded Warriors can consider themselves lucky, I certainly can too as an Angel Warrior.
Thank you to my new Navy friends in Florida, for inviting me to be part of such an unforgettable night.