Army Brick Road

They’re not in Pennsylvania anymore.

That was my loose intro based on the Wizard of Oz line, “We’re not in Kansas anymore,” in reference to my niece and nephew jetting off to Dorothy’s home state to meet their parents.

Isabella (6) and her younger brother Aiden (5), along with their mother, returned back to the United States earlier this summer from Germany, where they were stationed with my brother who is in the U.S. Army.

As my brother’s time in Germany came to a close, the process of moving everything to their new home in Kansas had already begun and his family had returned early to permit some much-needed family time in Western PA before reuniting in Kansas. The result of this was that we were fortunate enough to get to spend a significant amount of time with the two kids and my sister-in-law before they moved to the middle of America.

I have seven nieces and nephews thus far, with five of them living in Warren County. Albeit my own son has had the opportunity to grow up around them, his relationship with Isabella and Aiden had been limited to mostly phone calls and FaceTime for the past year. Which is significant given that as with any toddler, his development is moving at a rapid pace, including his ability to establish and maintain relationships with his cousins.

Therefore I have an insurmountable appreciation for being able to witness Aiden have his first crack at the older cousin role by taking the lead playing football, baseball, basketball, and basically any and every other typical little boy activity with my son. At the same time, Isabella, whether she realized it or not, gave Kaesyn enough hugs and love to make up for the last year and probably the next as well. Or at least enough to hold my son over until Christmas.

Selfishly I would like nothing more than for my brother and his family to stay, and perhaps a part of them wishes they could have as well, but that is not how a career in the Army works.

They had lived in several states before Germany, but it was the latter that created the realization of how much we take for granted as civilians.

We more or less can come and go as we please. It could be down the street, across the state, or to the other side of the country, the fact remains the same, our daily lifestyles are far more flexible than those in the military.

Now granted, they sign up for that commitment, and as much as I want to say they know what they’re getting themselves and their families into, I’m not entirely positive anyone could ever be prepared for it.

We always focus on the big things military families miss out on, but we forget about the little things, which ultimately are most important.

It’s not just vacations, holidays, or birthdays, it’s the impromptu nights where everyone just kind of shows up for a fire. The nights where you’ll roast marshmallows with the kids and enjoy some ice-cold Straub with your siblings. It’s going to tee-ball games and dance recitals.

They give up a lot so that we can have a lot. I know that’s an often-used statement, but it usually speaks of the soldier, not the family. My brother’s wife, and especially his children are learning as they go. There was no boot camp or training for them.

What I’ve learned is that supporting the troops is only part of being a good American. And we should never take for granted the sacrifices made by their families. Supporting their families is equally important and is especially helpful to those in uniform who can only focus on their mission if they know their families are supported and safe. I’ve also learned personally to not take the precious moments we share daily with each other for granted, a benefit born out of the freedom we have.

Cody has been a sports reporter and writer for ten years. His inspiration and motivation have come from all walks of life, including his own. He can be reached at codyjelms@gmail.com.

COMMENTS