Two weeks ago I had one of the most memorable trips of my life, and I owe it all to my family. In 65 hours, we celebrated Father’s Day, my brother’s promotion to major, the milestone of my dad’s 70th birthday and our first time being together as a family since January 2013.
My family is rooted in military history. Both my mom and dad are retired lieutenant colonels in the US Army. My brother Chris followed his lifelong dream of attending the Air Force Academy and becoming an F-16 pilot. After being stationed in South Korea for 15 months, he and his wife Ashley returned to the states in March for their next assignment at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina.
A few months ago, my parents made plans to visit South Carolina over Father’s Day weekend to attend my brother’s promotion ceremony, which was on my dad’s 70th birthday. I knew that the only thing my dad would want for his birthday was for our family to be together, so my husband and I made plans to make a surprise trip to South Carolina.
Thanks to my sister-in-law, we kept our travel plans top secret for weeks. The nine-hour drive was worth every second when I saw the tears rolling down my dad’s face as Emma Claire ran into his arms while I hugged my brother and sister-in-law for the first time in nearly 18 months.
On June 16, we attended a ceremony to commemorate my brother’s promotion to major in the Air Force. I am so proud of him for his hard work and numerous accomplishments. How many military officers have the opportunity to have their fellow serviceman and father read them the oath as they are promoted in rank? It was truly a special moment, which again brought tears to my dad’s eyes.
Given his military background, my dad can certainly be intimidating. But underneath the hard surface of military discipline, he is a big ol’ softie who wears his heart on his sleeve. That is one of the things I love most about my dad – he has genuine compassion for the people in his life. He is the most selfless, caring and loving person I have ever met. He is a treasure to those who are honored to call him a friend.
I wish that all my dad’s friends and family members were with us to celebrate his birthday, but thanks to the help of my mom and sister-in-law, we were able to still include them in a way that would touch his heart. Monday night after dinner, our family presented my dad with “70 Years of Memories” – a book filled with letters from his family and friends from every decade. Seeing his reaction brought tears to my eyes and a greater respect for my dad than ever before. He truly is the most amazing person, and the book proves that I am not the only one who believes that. THANK YOU to everyone who took the time to write a letter for my dad’s book. I hope you know how much it meant to him! The video above is a fitting tribute to a weekend worth celebrating.
I am so grateful that God blessed me with such a wonderful father, and I look forward to making many more memories with him.