By Circe Olson Woessner
Although May is often described as the “merry month of”– if you are military, this happy month has its somber side.
The Friday before Mother’s Day is Military Spouse Appreciation Day, and in this year’s proclamation, President Obama said, “We honor the spouses of those who have left behind everything they know and love to join our Nation’s unbroken chain of patriots, and we recommit to giving military spouses the respect, dignity, and support they deserve.”
That sentiment is appreciated—
Because of their unconventional lifestyle, many military spouses become independent and self-reliant.
Marine wife Stacy Marinaro recalls, “I remember a particular bad deployment. I was strong and silent and didn’t shed a tear at the bus depot while the buses carrying all our beloved, brave men drove off. I remember other wives mad at me that I didn’t cry. Well, it was my 4th time after all. My Family Readiness Officer came to my aid and stood up for me saying, that it was ‘ok that she’s not crying because she is a seasoned wife’. I kind of liked that term.”
Many military spouses are also mothers, and they deftly maneuver their families through unique conditions.
Military daughter Marilyn describes her mother fondly, “My mom was a WWII vintage, hauling kids from one end of the earth to the other, birthing children overseas, in dusty, remote duty stations, jungles and frozen tundra. Enduring seasickness, inoculations for God-knows-how-many exotic diseases, keeping our shot records, school records, silk kimonos, pets, bicycles, treasured toys (despite household goods weight restrictions—some of her stuff had to be left behind; it wasn’t nearly as important as her kids’ stuff).”
James Kenderdine remembers his mom’s courage, “My mother did not take the Army’s offer of evacuation during the Berlin Airlift (1948-49). She said, ‘I can stay the winter, no matter how bad it is.’ Watching her learn to shoot an MI carbine was fantastic, and to this day, I can still clearly see the image of her carbine, with a 20 round clip in it, round in the chamber, hanging by its sling next to her and dad’s bed.
This year, on May 8th, Victory in Europe Day, generally known as V-E Day, fell on Mother’s Day. This day traditionally marks the end of World War II in Europe, and is both somber and joyful.
On the home front, anxious families eagerly awaited the arrival of their loved ones.
A WWII wife describes her husband’s homecoming to their small New Mexico pueblo, “We didn’t know he was coming. He took the bus from Albuquerque and got off on the highway behind the hill. Our two children were outside playing, and our six-year daughter saw him and went running to her dad, but the littlest one ran away. I guess he didn’t know his dad.”
In 1949, Louis Johnson, the then US Secretary of Defense, announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy and Air Force Days. It was a time to pay tribute to men and women who serve in the United States’ armed forces.
It was that sentiment that had Vietnam veteran, Larry “Wolfman” Hurtado, create a Memorial honoring two of his friends who died in Vietnam. Located in the town of Bernalillo, the Sandoval County Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial consists of a high wall listing the names of New Mexico veterans, many who have paid the ultimate price. The memorial is a special place– a place for reflection, a place to hold ceremonies, to honor the dead, the missing, and Hurtado has built it with support from other veterans, friends and schoolmates. He is proud of the grass roots involvement in the project.
Currently, the Museum of the American Military Family is creating a memorial to honor 400 years of American Military Families’ service to America. Fundraising is underway and we plan to unveil it in the fall of 2016. (You can see more information on our website about this initiative.)
This Memorial Day, make it a point to go to one of the many local ceremonies happening across New Mexico and reflect on the true meaning of the day. As the names on the wall are read, or the somber music plays, remember the sacrifices of our service members –and those of the mothers and fathers, spouses, sons, and daughters, who loved and supported their loved ones—and lost them too soon.
Years ago, MAMF began designing its memorial honoring military families. Since then, people have donated a little over $5,000 towards the project. Originally, MAMF wanted to convert one of the seven military housing units it had been gifted into the memorial, but has since determined that those houses will prove too costly to renovate and rehabilitate for the project.
MAMF has redesigned its memorial, incorporating original artifacts from the historic Kirtland AFB houses. They have commissioned an Albuquerque firm to create 3D dandelion sculptures, which will be unveiled later this summer.
Here’s a rough sketch of the memorial building honoring those who “kept the home fires burning…”
The Memorial will be placed with the New Mexico National Guard in late 2016, thanks to the generous donations of individuals, businesses and organizations. It will take an additional $10,000 to bring this Memorial to fruition. If you’d like to help MAMF create this unique tribute to the countless men, women and children who serve alongside America’s heroes, please click here to donate, or send a check to:
MAMF, PO Box 5085 Albuquerque, NM 87185 . We are a 501c3 all volunteer nonprofit and your donations are tax deductible.
May 6, 2016 is Military Spouse Appreciation Day! Let’s Hear it For our Military Wives & Moms!
The Museum of the American Military Family & Learning Center has an all volunteer board, many of whom are or were military spouses or military moms– Thank you Stacey, Cheryl, Circe, Sue, Caroline & Jan for all your sacrifice & service! Our Brat Media Manager sent in this photo of her military mom–
“After basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, she received technical training as an Inventory Specialist at Amarillo Air Force Base in Texas, where she was the honor graduate in her class and was stationed at Randolph AFB in Texas, assigned to the Base Supply Financial Office. While at Randolph, she met and married my father, William Grinstead. After becoming pregnant with me, my mother was honorably discharged from the Air Force. She was only on active duty for a little over 18 months, and I have always been very proud of my mother’s service, particularly that she was part of the legacy of women in the early years of the Air Force. Women were fully integrated into the Air Force in 1973, but until that time, WAFS only accepted 4,000 enlisted women and 300 female officers per year. My mother was in very elite company who helped to pave the way for the generations of women who have served since then. I’ve also been very proud of her role as a military spouse, the often unsung heroes of our military – at every base we were stationed, my mother provided support to the families by volunteering for Family Services, or the American Red Cross, or Girl Scouts, as well as being active in the Enlisted Wives Club. In fact, she is also still an American Red Cross volunteer.
BUSY TIMES FOR THE MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN MILITARY FAMILY (MAMF)
A Commemoration Ceremony for Vietnam Veterans: “Heroes and Hueys”
A Documentary Film Program” “Under the Blade
Production of Two Anthologies
A Workshop: “Paper Making – a Healing Transformation”
In partnership with the Raymond G. Murphy VA Medical Center, the Museum of the American Military Family (MAMF) will co-host a New Mexico ceremony on March 29 as part of a national observance of the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War. It will open at 10:00 am with a flag line and color guard, continue with tributes to Veterans by Lt. Governor John Sanchez, Cabinet Secretary Jack Fox, and Brigadier General Andrew Salas, and conclude with a special showing of the documentary film “In the Shadow of the Blade,” which depicts the 10,000-mile journey of a battle-scarred UH-1 helicopter from Southeast Asia to America to tell the stories of Veterans and their families who also served. Thanks to the Bernalillo Sheriff’s Department, visitors will see and climb aboard a restored Huey of the kind featured in the film. » Read more
Vietnam Veterans who are enrolled for VA health care are invited to a special Vietnam War Commemoration Ceremony on March 29 at the medical center. The ceremony, co-hosted by the Museum of the American Military Family and in partnership with the Albuquerque Veterans Benefits Administration and the Santa Fe National Cemetery, will begin at 10 a.m. in the Education Auditorium (Bldg. 39).
The ceremony’s purpose is to thank and honor Veterans of the Vietnam War, including personnel who were held as prisoners of war or listed as missing in action, for their service and sacrifice on behalf of the United States, and also to thank and honor the families of these Veterans.
Special guest speaker will be Thomas Baca, a retired U.S. Army Veteran who flew helicopter missions in Vietnam. As an added attraction, a restored Huey helicopter of the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department will be parked on the medical center’s parade field (near the San Mateo gate) so those attending can get a close look at the aircraft that became famous as the “workhorse of Vietnam.”
Following the ceremony, Veterans can enjoy refreshments while they view the documentary, “In the Shadow of the Blade.” The 105-minute documentary follows the 10,000-mile journey of a battle-scarred UH-1 “Huey” helicopter into America’s backyards to hear the untold stories of Vietnam War Veterans and the families who waited for them to come home.
Lisa M. Pino, Community Liaison–was born into a family with extensive military service and experienced, first hand, the pride her family had in serving our country. Her grandfather served in WWI. Her uncles, who served in Korea, carried on that proud tradition. Her father, father in law and stepfather in law are Vietnam and Vietnam-era veterans. Most recently, she had numerous cousins serving in Afghanistan and Iraq. She’s dedicated the last 30 years in support of the President Lincoln’s promise “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan” by honoring the men and women who served in America’s Armed Forces. She volunteers extensively in the greater Albuquerque metro. She is looking forward to joining the Museum of the American Military Family team.