this 4th of July…and last 4th of July for us…

Did you know that our Marine Corps is older than this country? It’s only older by 8 months or so but that still that says something about the good timing of the founding father of the Marine Corps. Growing up and even now people associate 4th of July with fireworks, bar-b-que’s and family reunions but where did this tradition come from?

Basically the prominent people in the free states in America had gotten pretty ticked off with the British King and wanted to let him know their intent to separate from Great Britain. They did just that by writing the declaration of independence and using many reasons and justifications for separating from the monarch even calling the King’s rule ‘a history of repeated injuries’. They defined the King as ‘a Tyrant who was unfit to be the ruler of the free people of the United States of America’. The legal separation from the monarchy occurred and went into effect when the congress voted to approve a resolution of independence on July 2, 1776. After voting on that congress then debated, wrote and revised the declaration of independence and finally approved it on July 4. What I found interesting was that John Adams thought that July 2 would be infamous and that the succeeding generations would honor the anniversary of the nations’ independence and he was right about it being an honored for years to come but he chose the wrong date. The July 2 date was not known to most Americans in 1776 since the approval for independence was a closed session of congress; everyone went by the date signed on the declaration.

From the very first anniversary of our nations independence it has been celebrated; which has included everything from thirteen gun salutes to double shots of rum for General Washington’s soldiers in 1778 and today we line streets with flags and shoot fireworks in time with patriotic songs. If not for these courageous founding fathers we would be a completely different nation. Those men risked everything they had like our military does every day in order to make a better future for generations to come. I think this holiday we all deserve a double shot of rum for each and every American who gets to celebrate this holiday just as Samuel Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and many others did so long ago!

This time last year for us Anthony was in the sandbox. My mom was visiting us in California and we decided to head down to meet the Angela & Justin at the beach where Camp Pendleton puts on their annual festivities and fireworks display. Overall it was an unusually overcast day with spurts of sun darting through a very thick cloud bank. It was too cold for the adults except Angela who is a big kid at heart.  She played all day with our girls even in that chilly Pacific Ocean.  Justin, mom and I just read, relaxed and talked through all the comotion of the day.  All in all it was an exceptionally relaxing day and we all had a great time just being together. Unexpectedly Anthony was able to call me to check in on how we were, give me a new care package list and to see how the day was going since he knew it was around a holiday. Getting that phone call as most of you know is such an adrenaline rush you just feel giddy and like a cop interrogating a witness all at the same time. I was so ecstatic he’d called and then immediately turn to the barrage of questions like “do you need anything at all? Hot cheetos, socks, hot sauce packets, ect?” He didn’t really know if he’d called at the right time frame or day but they let him call so he did. He sounded tired but he sounded content in hearing our voices from thousands of miles away. He told me of all of the weight he had lost in just a short time of being there, how the weather was and how he was getting the hang of being out in that environment very quickly. We did our normal routine of the terrible Afghanistan phone connection hang ups and after the conversation said our, “I love you’s and talk to you soon love’s…”

All of the questions and answers in the world could not have predicted what would happen only 27 days later or the next set of questions after that phone call. If I would have known then what I know now I don’t know what I would have done but you never know when that last phone call is going to be your last phone call. It’s a hard to shake thoughts of ‘what if’ from your thoughts and nightmares looking back sometimes. What if he his guardian pack wouldn’t have saved him from being shot that first time in the back? What if the smoke canister wouldn’t have shielded him from being shot the next time in the back? What if it wasn’t just his leg and the sniper wouldn’t have missed a center mass or head shot? WHY did Anthony keep getting up and didn’t just stay down the first or second times he was shot?! We just know it could have been something extremely more serious than what he’s going through now and are just so humbled knowing what could have occurred that day.
In the last year Anthony’s injury and experience has changed our lives so much! We went from a distant young married couple who knew each other but not really to very close soul mates, confidants and companions. After something so devastating you either close yourself off emotionally to others or cherish life more than ever and love in a whole new perspective and I am so very thankful that we’ve both taken the latter of the two options. This entire year has been a learning curve for the both of us. It has been a test of our strengths and weaknesses regarding his physical abilities, mental preparedness for setbacks and being humble enough to let me take care of him. He was able to let me be his advocate and fight for him but not degrade or disrespect him. We just fell in love with each other all over again by really understanding the person you knew you loved for years but may have let life wedge in between somehow. There were times and still now where I wanted to throw my hands up of the whole situation when people tried to push their way in and screw everything up that we’d built up together. It takes so much trust, love and commitment to have someone by your side through literally thick and thin and our limits were tested on more than one occasion. As with anything worthwhile being able to overcome and persevere through such life altering challenges takes time, patience and plenty of alcohol. As a small bonus for me Anthony was on heavy medication when he first got home so I didn’t have to share my wine and White Russians with him!

Learn from our almost last phone call and live this 4th of July and everyday like it is your last, cherish the little things you may overlook and be madly in love with the person you have by your side because there are many who don’t get to and will never get that chance again. Happy Independence Day!

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