Monday, March 16, 2009


The Canadian College Dictionary defines 'community' as: 1. a group of people living together or in one locality and subject to the same laws, having common interests, characteristics etc. 2. the district or area in which they live.

I would suggest that when it comes to the military, police or fire fighters this does not go far enough. In my experience the military community suggested family. A closeness that I have read only exists in the other two groups. Whether it is only because in these groups you must 'have each others backs' in perilous situations or just the fact that it is possible you will be put in such circumstances I don't know. I do know that for me the military became my family. I served in the Canadian Air Force for three years working in a radar tower watching and plotting aircraft for NORAD. Even though it was my first time away from home I loved my job and the people I worked with. As the definition says we had many common interests.

Then I married an airman and through 22 years we stayed involved with the air force and again wherever we went we were folded into the 'family'. I learned to be very adaptable as did our children as we moved from base to base. The three years we lived in Germany was a wonderful experience even through the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia and the invasion of our base supposedly by a member of the Bader Meinhof gang.

In Canada we clung together with our members during the horrible days of the crash on our base and the loss of three men. It seemed that everyone congregated at the arena and then the snack bar, in common grief. It was a terrible time and especially when it happened when my husband's aircraft was due to land and there was some confusion as to who was involved. We pulled together and got through it, helping one another and those involved who were injured.
You do not forget that kind of closeness. It is a very tight group. Being away from your family the people you are with become your family, bolstered by your common experiences.

It is for this reason that I still feel very close to the military family. I can relate to the wives who watch their husbands board a plane taking them off on a mission, some into war zones. I have been there. I understand the long wait; the days and nights wondering what he is doing.

I cannot know what the military widow is feeling but I ache for the families and what they must be going through each time the news reports that we have lost another mother's son. It is for this reason that I felt I should take the time this week to pay my respects to our fallen soldier, a dear friend of my son. It was not my first military funeral but I hope it will be my last. The solemn drum beat, the slow march, the tolling bell and the flag draped coffin brought back memories of other military funerals, of other lost friends. As the tears fell and we said good bye to Dennis I prayed to keep our soldiers safe. They are family.