Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Military Family

Friday I spent a good portion of the evening watching documentaries of 9/11 on the History channel. The terror, chaos and desperation of that hideous day were portrayed in a montage of 911 calls, personal video cams, news footage and interviews. For me it emphasized the fact that as a nation we can neither ignore nor can we forget that day of infamy.

On a very minor level we had our own scare. Our son was working in the Department of Commerce building which is located directly across the street from the White House. From numerous calls with our daughter-in-law we knew that the entire area had been evacuated. We also knew that the cell lines were overloaded, they'd sealed off all the parking garages, cabs had disappeared from the streets, the Metro was inundated with panicked people trying to flee the District and that my son was going to start walking. To where - we didn't know. He actually ended up in a bar in Georgetown watching it unfold on TV. And that wasn't anything compared to the terror my friend experienced knowing that her husband was in the Pentagon.

That was also a day that changed the lives of military families for many years to come. My October release, Top Gun Dad, is a story about the joys and tribulations of a single dad and Air Force pilot. He's in Afghanistan when he gets word that his ex has abandoned their daughters and disappeared. From there he makes a quantum leap, both personally and professionally, to the world of undergraduate pilot training. And this story - at least in part - comes from experience. My husband was the Assistant Director of Operations at a pilot training base in Oklahoma.

We spent 26 years (and 21 moves) as an Air Force family and I loved almost all of it - the two wars, the numerous TDY's (temporary duty) and the alert cycles (my hubby sat in a concrete bunker waiting for the Soviets to launch a missile) notwithstanding. Being in the military is truly not just a job - it's a way of lie. Every assignment presented us with a new adventure and another extended family. My son went to three high schools and my daughter attended two. You might say that sounds terrible but they both graduated with a 4.0 and are the most flexible people on the planet - always ready for a new experience. In fact, they both married Europeans - interesting, huh?

So to military families everywhere - I salute you. You're wonderful! You have that pioneer "get it done" spirit that made America great, and I love you.

Ann DeFee

Top Gun Dad, HAR, October 2009
Hill Country Hero, HAR, February 2010


Mint said...

May God bless our military men and women. I look forward to reading your book.

Linda Henderson

shelley galloway said...

Hi Ann!

Since I've only known you as Ann-the-writer, it's easy for me to forget that you once had a far different life. Twenty-one moves! A husband in a war! All of your experiences certainly humble me.

On another note, when my husband and I watched a brief clip of the towers falling, I got all choked up again. Sometimes all the years that have passed don't seem very long at all.