In my memoir, Standing By: The Making of an American Military Family in a Time of War, I write about our experience during my husband’s deployments, and since the last inauguration I have watched with great interest as Mrs. Obama has met with military families around the country to brainstorm on ways to improve the lives of spouses and children left behind. It’s a privilege to speak directly to the First Lady about our own situation. Her words, gestures and actions, and the President’s, underscored their depth of understanding for the challenges military families face during wartime. My brief time with them gave me comfort, as well as the confidence that comes from knowing that the people making decisions about our lives sincerely appreciate the sacrifice inherent in service.Throughout the evening, I thought of the many military families I have met throughout my husband’s career, and the hardships they have experienced because of the ongoing wars. I also remembered the tremendous ups and downs that my husband and I have experienced together. The evening was especially poignant because it was our wedding anniversary. Eight years ago, standing side by side in wedding dress and service dress blues, neither of us could have imagined where we would be today. That’s part of the magic of the military lifestyle: surprises lurk around every corner. For us, the magic still beckons, and the lights flickering on the White House menorah last night illuminated truths I had almost forgotten.
12-month deployment in Iraq he was not with us; our two children, six-year-old Ethan and four-year-old Esther, talked about their dad with the President and Vice President, who thanked them for their service to the country and sympathized with the difficulty of missing a loved one.The scene was familiar, but not our place in it. Last night, our military family had the honor of lighting the Hanukkah menorah at the White House, reciting the blessings over the candles, and meeting President Obama, Mrs. Obama, and Vice President Biden. Because my husband is serving a
Alison Buckholtz wrote the “Deployment Diary” column for Slate.com, and her other articles and essays on military life have been published in The New York Times, New York Magazine, Real Simple, Parenting, Washingtonian Magazine, Salon.com and many other publications. As an advocate for military families, she has appeared on NBC Nightly News, NPR, and in national news stories.