Wednesday, May 10, 2017

All American Comeback Kid

Sargent Appling has been home for two years now and I am so glad that Baby Girl has had the time to spend with her Daddy.

Now for those of you who don't know, Sargent has been on two deployments throughout Baby Girl's short 8 years of life. His first was when he did his first tour in Iraq - when Baby Girl was only 6 months old. He was gone for about 3 years and when he came back, she was almost 3 and a half years old. His second tour, this time in Afghanistan, started when she was about 5 years old and he came home a year later, in May 2015.

Even though he and I are no longer together and hadn't been since his first tour, it was still one of the hardest times in my life. Watching Baby Girl miss her Daddy when he was away, especially during his second tour was heartbreaking. The first tour was a little easier, since she was so little and too young to realize anything that was happening.

This time, in his most recent deployment, she just couldn't understand it. She understood when I had talks with her about it, but being so little, she would forget and find herself misunderstanding again. I often, more often than not - found myself explaining how she has a Daddy who is different than other Daddies because he has a very special job. She knew his job was different, but she struggled at times, especially when she saw friends, cousins, etc with their daddies and only wanted hers with her as well. She would cry and even beg for me to call him, or tell him to come over so she could see him...

Again. Heartbreaking.

The struggles and sacrifice that military families go through is some of the hardest things to get through, especially when the soldier is on a deployment. You find yourself worrying a little more. Watching the news a little more. Reading the newspaper a little more. Crying, especially when that "Letters from Home" by John Michael Montgomery or "If You're Reading This" by Tim McGraw song comes on the radio. And every chance you get, whether its Memorial Day or Fourth of July or not, you find yourself honoring this great land of ours a hell of a lot more because you know the man or woman you and your family care for so much is risking their lives far away fighting for it.

That man or woman is someone's son or daughter. Someone's brother or sister. Someone's husband or wife. Someone's nephew or niece. A little someone's daddy or mommy.

This country is the land of the free because of the brave. The flag that stands for freedom and flies in the wind doesn't fly because the wind blows it. It flies because somewhere, far away and away from home, a military member took his last breath defending it. The risks that Sargent took and how he physically sacrificed his body and physical health for our freedoms.

No one wants their relative to leave, especially to fight a battle so dangerous. The feelings of denial knowing there's war going on and your son or daughter, brother or sister, husband or wife, nephew or niece, daddy or mommy - got the call. Telling them "You come back safe to me" when you know its a promise that cannot be kept. Its like time is a bargain that cannot be reasoned with. Offering up your most prized possession so they don't go is like giving the military your other most prized possession (your soldier).

Wondering where they're at, if they're being safe. If they're laughing. If they're waiting in line to call. All those things are so unbelievably nerve wrecking - especially when you have small children. "Where's Daddy?" and just telling them "Daddy's on a special mission right now, but he'll call us when he can and come home after some more time passes," when in the back of your mind, you can't guarantee it and you're wondering if they really will and you think back to when they were hugging you goodbye and saying "This is what I'm for - what I was trained to do."

Hearing "If You're Reading This" by Tim McGraw killed me. It was a song I just couldn't listen to. The reality and emotion in it just would send me over the edge. If and when something would happen to Sargent and had to see a medic for severe injuries, we would have to wait for DAYS to hear an update. I didn't want anything bad to happen to him. I didn't want to have to tell my little girl something serious happened to her Daddy. I didn't want the lyrics to this song to be our family's reality.

Through many prayers and our strong faith in God and His power, Sargent made it home. He received the Purple Heart for his services and was one of the four Oregon soldiers to earn it.

**The Purple Heart is a United States military decoration awarded in the name President to those wounded or killed while serving, on or after April 05, 1917, with the United States military.**

"All American Comeback Kid" tributed the feelings and thoughts of anxiety of losing someone overseas in our family for me. America's Veterans will always have my full support and a special place in my heart. Anyone who knows me or our family knows how much this country means to me and how much I care about those who did, who are or who are planning on serving. I can't imagine the families grief and pain for their soldiers not returning home.

Here we are two years later and Baby Girl has built a great relationship with her Daddy and she is definitely Daddy's little girl.

I remember how heartbroken she was when she missed him and he wasn't here to see her all the time but when he got home, on American soil again, it was like the two of them just picked up where they left off. She saw him and they just ran to each other and she jumped into his arms. I remember how heartwarming it was to see her have her Daddy back. Her happiness and her little self was now complete.

Her hero was home and a little girl's first hero is ALWAYS... Her Daddy.


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