Military Moments: June
I celebrated mother’s day this year in the typical military family fashion – with my kids but without their father, who was overseas. My bonus treat was to spend the weekend with other military spouses and families at a retreat and my own mother was even with us. Kid snuggles, handmade cards, flowers planted in mason jars and a prearranged bouquet made the day extra special.
This month, my husband will be on another trip and won’t be able to celebrate Father’s Day with our children. I come from a long line of military dads missing out on milestones and holidays – my father and grandfather were both in the Air Force. Designated a national holiday in 1972 by President Nixon, Father’s Day is celebrated the third Sunday of June and economists estimate Americans spend more than $1 billion each year on Father’s Day gifts.
My husband hasn’t been home for very many daddy’s days which is probably why he’s generally “fun dad” when he is here. He fills those rare days home, in between trips, with toy store runs for something for them all to play with, ice cream, pizza and movies. In that way Father’s Day is really any day he’s with the kids and he’s the one gift giving.
Dads in our greater military community come in all shapes, sizes and situations with some being on active duty while others are male military spouses who are the primary caregivers while their wives deploy. Military dads were especially recognized by two recent awards.
Military Spouse magazine recently chose a male military spouse and stay-at-home dad as its Military Spouse of the Year, the first since the magazine introduced the annual award in 2008. A former submariner, Jeremy Hilton is an Air Force spouse who left the Navy to tend to his special needs daughter and volunteer as an advocate for military family members with disabilities.
The National Fatherhood Initiative recently announced its 2012 Military Fatherhood award voting to recognize “a military dad who is making a difference for his country, the military community, and most importantly, his own children,” according to www.fatherhood.org. The three finalists are fathers serving in the Navy, Air Force and Army – a chaplain, airman and musician who were nominated for their dedication to balancing military and family life while fathering from a distance when deployed.
Just as a presidential proclamation created an official father’s day in the US, the commander-in-chief continues to issue an annual statement on the topic. One of Barack Obama’s father’s day speeches noted that “we owe a special debt of gratitude for those parents serving in the United States Armed forces and their families, whose sacrifices protect the lives and liberties of all American children.”
Happy Father’s Day to all our military dads, whether they wear a uniform or not, your support and sacrifice for your children does not go unnoticed!
Michelle Galvez is a mother of three, Navy spouse, government contractor, graduate student and journalist. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.