It’s easy to get caught up in our own lives, & forget all of the history this world has for us. I cannot tell you how many days of my life have been spent not even thinking of the history before me; days where I only thought of what was happening right in front of me. Growing up in Las Vegas, it was hard for me to grasp the reality of our country’s history, because it mostly took place in foreign places to me (The East Coast, Europe, etc.) Now that I moved to the south, it’s starting to really sink in that I am living where history was made.
Zack, my significant other, got stationed in Fort Benning, Georgia as of January 2018. Our first day here, they asked if we would like to live in a historic home built in 1930. We always thought it would be a cool experience to try it out, so we happily said yes. I instantly fell in love with the antique lights, shelving, & fireplace. I knew this place would be good for my heart (& I was right) What I did not expect, was how much living here was going to move me in ways I never would’ve imagined.
Yesterday, we toured the National Infantry Museum, & got a glimpse of how hard our infantrymen have worked for many decades. We also walked through exhibits of many, many wars, & battles the United States fought. I’ve previously learned about our country’s events, but it was in a far away time, & land, from where I was. This made it difficult for me to truly feel the effects of it. Until now. It was the World War II exhibit that really started turning tables in my head.
It seemed like every display I walked up to, & read about, had thousands of casualties from The US Military… Thousands. It always felt like just a statistic that I learned in class, but I finally realized the impact that their lives had. Countries in Europe were being invaded, & taken over; innocent people were murdered, & being held hostage… The world was becoming overrun by hatred. The US Military stepped in, & went to Europe in attempt to stop the Axis Powers from continuing to spread. 416,800 people serving in the United States Military gave their life in this war alone. 416,800 people did not get to come home to see their families again. 416,800. It isn’t just a statistic.
I couldn’t sleep last night, while that number swirled around in my head over, & over. & then it hit me. Fort Benning, my new home, the home of Ranger School, Officer Candidate School, Airborne School, Infantry Basic Officer Leadership Course, etc etc etc, received its first troops in 1918. Exactly 100 years ago. Our home was built in 1930. This means that soldiers that lived in my exact house were likely deployed to many wars, & battles- including World War II, the one I couldn’t stop thinking about.
Every single day, Zack & I walk the same hallways that brave soldiers who shaped the history of this world once did. We sleep where they did. We eat where they did. We laugh where they did. Not many people get to say that. Last night I laid in bed staring at the ceiling, wondering how many other military family members have stared at the exact same ceiling. Family members who may have been waiting for their loved ones to come home from battle or war. Waiting for their mom, dad, husband, wife, etc. that may not have ever made it back. During World War II, 5,701 people from Georgia gave their lives, which I assume includes soldiers from Fort Benning. It’s possible, that some honorable people who have served this country, ones that lived in my exact house, did not make it home from that war alone.
Every soldier that once lived in my home is a true hero that I deeply admire, & feel connected with, because my home was once theirs. Soldiers that have moved in & out of this home for the last 88 years, dedicating their lives to protecting people of this nation. With that information, I’ve decided that the best thing I can do, is do my best to truly honor, & appreciate all of the men, & women who have served this country (& are still serving) I will walk the halls in my house, the halls that some heroes, too, have walked, with a deep appreciation. Words cannot express how much their sacrifice means to me.
I feel so grateful that my Zack is a part of such an important organization that holds so much history. I finally understand, & feel connected to events of the world that once felt so foreign to me. Being here has opened my eyes, & helped me admire our military more than I ever had before. I will make sure that I never forget all of the men & women who gave their lives to protect our country; I will not let their spirit vanish from my heart. They deserve to be remembered.
♡ Valerie Karen.
P.S. Zack, you will forever be my hero, & I am so proud of you.
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