This week, I flew to Enterprise, Alabama in order to visit Fort Rucker. While there, I had a chance to speak with active duty soldiers, their family members, and veterans. Over the next few days, I will post an interview with one person from each group.
Ashley is a stay at-home mom living in Enterprise. Originally from Tampa, Florida, she has moved all over the country with her husband, who is a now a lawyer for the Army (after time as a soldier). Our conversation covered familial sacrifice and avoiding political discussion.
Being married to a solider has changed her views on citizenship:
My views have changed in the last eight years because of my husband. I would’ve said I was a good citizen before I married Nick, but now I feel like it’s to a whole new level because I have to make a lot more sacrifices for our country. Now, I do feel like I can say I am a proud American because of what I’ve sacrificed.
The biggest sacrifice is familial:
I grew up with my mom, dad, and four sisters. I never had any desire to leave my hometown. We did family barbecues all the time. There was no reason for me to look outside that area; it had everything I needed.
Then I met Nick. I gave up my family. I gave up knowing everybody. I graduated college, got married two days later, and never went back. When we got married, we left and went to Texas. Thanksgivings and Christmas were now by ourselves. I went from having a huge family that I was a part of to having my husband be my family.
Being a military spouse has shown me he truly is my family. We’ve had to make each other family, as opposed to my parents, grandparents, and siblings. We moved here last July, and Holly and Chris (my hosts and another military family) had us over because I couldn’t get home. People like them are our new family.
What most citizens can’t understand:
I think most people are good citizens. But they don’t get the sacrifice.
Nick was deployed for fifteen months. He left October of 2007 and came home January of 2009. He missed two Thanksgivings and two Christmases. My sister was sitting there complaining about everything on Christmas. And I was so irritated because she was given this gift to be surrounded by everyone she loves. I was thinking how other people would give anything to have their loved ones here.
Most people don’t have the ability to understand it. When I move to new places, I have to fill out emergency contact cards for my kids at school that have three people in the area who the school can contact, which is hard when you don’t know anyone.
I think most people still honor American values, honor the flag, honor what our country stands for. But they don’t understand the sacrifices people are actually making.
She doesn’t talk about politics with people:
People can be so close minded when they’re passionate about something. One of the reasons I really didn’t do very much in the election is that I have my opinion, but it’s like, I don’t need to show it. I’m an educated woman, someone doesn’t need to cram something down my throat trying to change my ideas.
I don’t discuss politics with my husband. I just don’t want to know anyone’s politics. I’d rather see everybody for who they are, not who they vote for.
Her problem with how we talk about politics:
What I feel like happens in our country, especially around election time, people don’t tell you the good candidates will do. They point our the other side’s flaws. I want to see a candidate for how they’ll better tomorrow, not all the things wrong with them.
She tries to shield her son from the bad parts of American politics:
I wanted to shelter Andrew (my son) from all the candidate-bashing. When the majority speaks, that’s who’s President. When he saw people burning things down after the election, I was upset. I want him to understand you can make a change by not doing that.
There are also things Trump has said and done that are just horrific. So, we’d say to Andrew, our son, it’s not okay that Trump does this. We’d ask, what’s a better way to get our point a cross?
What it means to be an American:
I think it means working together for the greater good. I don’t feel like that’s happening right now; there’s a lot of division. I’d like to think that our forefathers when they wrote the Constitution, and when Betsy Ross sewed the flag, wanted unity. I think they wanted us to recognize how far we’ve come and work together to keep that work going.
Anybody who is passionate about something and wants to make change for the better is an exemplary citizen.