I have always believed that the person you marry should challenge you to be your best self, and to grow and change when necessary.
Through knowing my husband for the past eight years, there are numerous ways I have grown, but today I'm reminded of how my views of the military have changed.
I grew up hearing stories about the huge fights my mother and father used to have with her family about the Vietnam War. My mother and my father, who grew up Quaker and did alternative service during Vietnam, did not believe in the war. In contrast, Uncle Jack (my mother's oldest brother), had enlisted in the Navy when he was 17 (I'm not sure how), had served in WWII, and was then serving in Vietnam. My Uncle Sonny (my mother's middle brother) had served in Korea as a radio technician, and my Uncle Jim (her younger brother) was drafted to serve in Vietnam as an airplane mechanic.
Although I knew that all three of my uncles had been in the military, I always leaned more towards my father's views of war. In fact, since I didn't believe in war as a good outcome to conflict, it didn't occur to me to think of the soldiers as separate from war, until I met my husband.
My husband, who has no family members in the military, but whose best friend was in the Marine Corps for quite a few years, has a tremendous sense of gratitude for the service of military personnel. This gratitude may be the result of growing up male and being a history buff, both of which have exposed him to the awful realities of war. Whatever the source of his gratitude, my husband has helped me to separate the wars from the individuals, and that has helped me to grow.
I still do not fundamentally believe in war as a solution to political problems (although I do realize its necessity, from time to time), I have come to have a deep appreciation for the men and women who serve in the armed forces. I may not understand why they choose to join the military, or endorse their beliefs (especially the ones who join because they want to further god's will), but they all put their lives on the line for their country, and for that I have immense respect.
On Saturday, my husband and I shook hands with two veterans collecting donations for the Veterans of Foreign Wars Foundation. I'll admit, it was hard for me to step beyond my revulsion for war and thank them, but it was worth it.