Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Mother's Day salute to military families

Lisa Osiecki has no plans for Mother's Day. If the weather is nice she might go to the zoo, and if it rains, well, she'll just stay home. It doesn't really matter. What's going to be great about today is that she gets to spend it with her husband, U.S. Air Force Maj. Larry Osiecki, and their sons. 

Last week at this time he was supporting military operations in Libya as part of Operation Odyssey Dawn and, like many other spouses, mothers and grandmothers of U.S. service members, Lisa wasn't sure when she would see him again. "Having him home is fantastic," said Lisa, during an interview from the family's home in Pleasant Ridge. "It's been a long time, and with him being across the world, I don't know if anyone can understand the feeling. We are so fortunate."

Her voice trailed off.

The line was silent for a second.

Then she continued excitedly, rattling off all of the wonderful things that she and the boys have planned for daddy's return.

"He's home just in time for the boys' birthdays and Mother's Day. We're going to bake a cake and have pizza. It's going to be a pirate birthday -- but not like the movie, more old-fashion swashbuckler kind of pirates. My 2-year-old went to bed the other  night wearing a black patch over his eye."

The major was equally as excited about being home.

"I left home in the middle of March, came home for a week, and then left again," said Larry, who is a flight instructor for the 127th Wing of the Michigan Air National Guard based out of Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Harrison Township. When he's not on the base or volunteering for military missions overseas, he is working as a pilot for Delta airlines. "I have an unbelievably supportive wife and family."

How does Lisa do it?

When the question comes up. instead of talking about herself, Lisa points out the amazing strength of her sister-in-law. Not only has she supported the military career of her husband, Lisa's brother, but she did so without having any family around.  "He was in the army for 17 years. He did tours of Iraq (twice), Afghanistan and Korea. He is now on medical disability due to issues resulting from his duty and was honorably discharged," said Lisa, who is not only very proud of her brother but in awe of her sister-in-law as a military wife and mom.

The morning after Osama bin Laden was killed by an elite team of military personnel, every radio station in Detroit (it seemed) was talking about his death and what it would mean, not just to America but the world. A lot of callers said they felt safer. Justice is done, said others. As bin Laden was the mastermind behind the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, people felt his death would bring closure to the families who lost loved ones in the attack. The last call I heard was unlike all the others. Instead of cheering the death of the monster, a young woman called in to announce that her husband, who is a member of the U.S. Air Force, was alive and well. Her husband, who had yet to see his newborn daughter, had called her shortly after the raid on bin Laden's compound in Pakistan to say, "Honey, I'm coming home."

Her call brought it all into perspective.

A tyrant is gone and I will be celebrating Mother's Day with my family because of military families that support the peace-keeping efforts of U.S. and allied military forces.
First Lady Michelle Obama told a gathering at the White House for "Military Spouse Appreciation Day" that she understands some of them may be sad this Mother's Day because they are mourning a loved one. 

"All we can do is hug you and tell you that we are thinking and praying and working for you all," she said. "Every day you deal with things that most of us can only imagine. Even if you're not the ones wearing the uniform, every single one of you is serving our country and every single one of you deserves our support."

Thanks to military spouses like Lisa Osiecki and her sister-in-law, we have days like today.

I wear no uniforms, no blues or greens.
But, I am in the military, in the ranks rarely seen.
I have no rank upon my shoulders. Salutes I do not give.
But in the military world is where I live.
I am not in the chain of command, orders I do not give or get.
But my husband is the one who does, this I can not forget.
I am not the one who fires a weapon, Who puts his life on the line.
But my job is just as tough, I’m the one who is always left behind.
My husband is a patriot, a brave and pride filled man.
And the call to serve his country not all can understand.
Behind the lines, I see things needed to keep this country free.
My husband makes the sacrifice, but so do my kids and me.
I love the man I married. The military is his life.
So I pledge to support my hero and stand among the silent ranks known as the military wife -- Robin Jones

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