What It's Like Growing Up With A Veteran Parent

9 Facts Of Life When You Call A Veteran Mom Or Dad

The military is a part of your parent's identity, and it is consequently a part of yours as their kid, even if you haven't realized it yet.

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If your parent is a veteran, odds are the military runs through their veins. You don't remember when you learned what the military was or how it worked. All you know is that you did learn and at a very young age at that. During your time growing up, your parent has probably received multiple military-themed gifts and has told you about the good ole military days more than a few times.

So, if your parent is a veteran, here are nine facts of your life.

1. Curse words are a frequent form of expression

Bad words are beautiful gifts to the languages. Odds are your parent not only knows all the curse words in the English language but probably some others in a foreign language. My dad knows quite a few in German.

2. Guns are not inherently "bad"

While I cannot speak for everyone's parents' political beliefs, odds are guns are not hated in a military household, considering the military relies on them a lot of the times.

3. Pretty much ALL gifts you get for them are military-themed

We have gotten my father a LEGO tank model, many other tanks models, military T-shirts, veteran-made coffee, glasses with bullets stuck in the sides, and many more items that I could list off if I so wished.

4. There are at least 20 t-shirts with the American flag on it in your household

This goes along with the gift thing. A fair majority of your parent's wardrobe is made up of military-related clothing, and there is no denying it. USA loud and proud.

5. Alcohol and coffee = the two main forms of sustenance

Now that I think about it, I have never met a veteran that doesn't enjoy at least one of these things immensely. Like... ever.

6. You'll learn weird phrases or sayings that you have never heard any one else's parents say

My father always says, "Well, that's a dead soldier!" after a bottle is emptied in my house. According to Google, this phrase derives from WWI times, in which people referred to empty bottles as "dead soldiers" or "dead marines" because the bottle has served its duty. Also, my dad has explained to me many times that the f-word is actually an acronym referring to early prostitutes.

So, that's fun.

7. You'll hear the same military stories a THOUSAND times

For example, my dad once lived in a barracks that all the soldiers claimed was haunted. They would hear boots going up and down the halls late at night while everyone was in bed, or so the story goes over and over and over...

8. And when you try to INTERRUPT the military stories, they just take more time to tell it

OMG I KNOW THAT IT WAS HAUNTED. PLEASE JUST LET ME STARE INTO THE FRIDGE MINDLESSLY

9. You are proud to call them your parent

They served for their country. Now, they serve you as your parent and a great parent at that.

I love you, Dad!

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5 Lessons My Dad The Volunteer Firefighter Taught Me

For the most part, I had a very normal upbringing. Or so I thought.

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For the most part, I had a very normal upbringing. Or so I thought. It wasn't until I was older that I realized my friend's dads didn't leave at the drop of a pager tone.

My friends didn't spend hours playing hide and seek around firetrucks while their dads did paperwork or worked on those same trucks. They didn't know what a power ride was. They didn't go lights and sirens through the local parade every single year. They didn't know how exciting it was to bring snacks to their daddy spending his Saturday at a live training burn.

They especially didn't know what it felt like to shout "Love you, be safe!" every time their dad rushed out the door because the very real reality was he may not come back.

Here are a few things I learned from my not so normal upbringing.

1. Microwaved supper 3 hours later is better than no supper at all.

I can replay my Mom putting Dad's food in the microwave clear as day in my head. Only because it happened nearly a million times growing up. It never failed the pager seemed to know when we had all just sat down to eat. Even more so it knew when Dad had just taken his first bite of food.

A slight sigh from him as he got up to leave while Mom put his plate in the microwave. I can also replay the moment he returned home going straight to the kitchen to fill his empty stomach. My favorite part was I can honestly never remember him being mad about it, always a smile and joke along the lines of "The damn pager can wait until I finish this time."

2. Be honest.

It doesn't matter how sneaky you are or how good of a lie you're telling. HE WILL FIND OUT.

I've known my father for well all twenty years of my life and you bet your ass if he wants to know something, he will know it. Sometimes even if he doesn't want to know it, he ends up knowing it. Honesty will get you much farther in life.

3. Work for it.

Nothing good in life is just handed to you.

My dad conquered his fear of claustrophobia by sitting in the middle of our garage floor every night and putting a barrel over himself. He sat there in a barrel at first for only a few seconds but night after night suddenly one day he wasn't claustrophobic anymore. If you want something, if you want to do better and want to be better, work for it. It's that simple.

Be the weirdo sitting in the garage with a barrel over yourself.

4. You will never improve without first making mistakes.

If you are not making mistakes then you are not trying hard enough and you certainly are not learning anything.

I can't even recall the number of times I have watched my father vent to us about his problems and even failures. With every mistake made and problem I faced over the last twenty years, this man has easily become damn near perfect at what he does. He would never agree with me and of course nobody is perfect but like I said he comes damn close.

5. God, firefighting, and family... In that order.

I know what you're thinking, how can you say this volunteer firefighting thing comes before your family.

I thought the same thing as a little girl, who just wanted to crawl up on her daddy's lap and watch a movie with him, only for him to run out the door the second those stupid pager tones dropped. I can't say exactly when, but one day I realized it wasn't about me.

My dad was leaving to go save someone else's daddy who was having a heart attack. My dad was leaving to help someone else's grandma who had fallen and can't get up. My dad was leaving to put out the fire that consumed someone else's home.

The second those "stupid" pager tones dropped I had to share him, he was needed by someone else having a much worse day than I was.

Once I realized this, the disappointment I once had when I watched my dad rush out the door soon turned into pride. For twenty years I've watched him be completely selfless, leaving no matter what, at the drop of a single tone to go help other people.

So yes, in my family we say our prayers, fight our fires and hug each other. In that order.

The lessons are endless. My dad continues to educate me and make me a better woman every day that I'm alive. I will forever be thankful for my not so normal life and the man behind that life.

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8 Songs To Remind You What Memorial Day Is About

While it is a day to celebrate our freedom, we must remember all of those who gave their lives for the freedoms we often take for granted.

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Many people fail to realize the true importance and the difference between Veteran's Day and Memorial Day. While both are days to celebrate the freedoms our soldiers have earned for us, Memorial Day is about honoring those who have given the ultimate sacrifice to give us the many privileges we have today. Here are a few songs to honor our fallen soldiers this Memorial Day.

'American Soldier' by Toby Keith, 2003

"I don't wanna die for you/ But if dying's asked of me/ I will bear that cross with honor/ 'Cause freedom don't come free"

This song will always be my go-to song when it comes to military songs. Toby Keith perfectly captures the feelings of every soldier when they go off to war- leaving behind their families and facing the dangers head on knowing full well that they may not come home. Countless soldiers have and will continue to give their lives protecting our country and this song is a reminder of everything soldiers sacrifice in their line of duty.

'Some Gave All' by Billy Ray Cyrus, 1992

"Some stood through for the red, white, and blue/ And some had to fall"

Billy Ray Cyrus perfectly put into words the sacrifices made by soldiers who go to war to protect our country. Everybody gives some portion of themselves in battle and no soldier comes back from overseas the same. However, there are many forgotten soldiers who have given the ultimate sacrifice to defend our nation and everything it stands for and we must remember that. This ballad gives a strong message that should be echoing around the country this Memorial Day.

'If You're Reading This' by Tim McGraw, 2007

"I'm layin down my gun/ Hanging up my boots/ Tell dad I don't regret that I followed in his shoes"

Never will I not cry when I listen to this song. Written in the point of view of a fallen soldier, Tim McGraw's ballad shows just everything a soldier says goodbye to when he lays down his life. The lyrics talk to the soldiers parents, telling them not to be sad and that his soul is home, as well as his wife and unborn daughter to whom he wishes the best for. Always one of the songs that hits close to home.

'Arlington' by Trace Adkins, 2005

"And every time I hear twenty-one guns/ I know they brought another hero home to us"

Yet another tearjerker. This song centers around a soldier who lost his life in battle and was buried in Arlington, the national military cemetery, where the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is located. The soldier reminiscences on the way his parents cried presented with his flag, and the way he and his dad searched for his grandfather's grave here when they were kids. His father told him that this was the sacrifice of freedom, and the subject of the song is proud that he is one of the "chosen ones."

'Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue' by Toby Keith, 2002

"My daddy served in the Army/ Where he lost his right eye/ But he flew a flag out in our yard/ 'Till the day that he died"

I adore this song because not only does it honor our fallen soldiers, but it's the upbeat chorus and prideful lyrics could instill a sense of patriotism in even the most unpatriotic. It talks about how the USA will never fail to retaliate when someone threatens our peace and security, as we've done countless times.

In the words of Toby Keith, "we'll put a boot in your ass/ it's the American way."

'Travelin' Soldier' by Dixie Chicks, 2003

"Don't worry but I won't be able to write for a while"

This song sits really close to home for me because it talks about a young high school girl who falls in love with a newly enlisted soldier, and how their love continues to grow even when he's overseas. Everybody tells her that she's too young to be waiting around for a soldier but she holds on hope anyways, even when his letters stop coming. In the bridge of the song, we find out that the soldier dies in the war in Vietnam and her waiting for her soldier to return takes on a much more sad meaning,

'I Drive Your Truck' by Lee Brice, 2012

"Hey, man I'm trying to be tough/ And momma asked me this morning if I'd been by your grave/ But that flag and stone ain't where I feel you anyway"

A newer song yet still a gem, Lee Brice tells how he copes with the loss of his brother. He talks about driving his brother's truck to feel close to him again, using this source of comfort to drown the pain of his loss. He leaves his brother's things in the truck, like his dog tags, cowboy boots, and Go Army shirt, keeping the relics of his brother close after saying goodbye in his own way.

'Just A Dream' by Carrie Underwood, 

"And the guns rang one last shot/ And it felt like a bullet in her heart"

Another song about a dead lover, Carrie Underwood focuses on the fear of lovers and spouses of military personnel feel whenever their loved one is away at war. She talks about a girl, fresh into womanhood preparing to marry her lover before finding out that he died in the war. Her wedding then turns into a funeral as "reality" hits her but then comforts herself by saying the entire scenario is a dream. However, Underwood was able to capture the fear of every military spouse that they could lose their loved one at any given moment.

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