After Joe discharged from the military, he put everything he had into a few boxes and tucked them away. I never knew or asked what was inside them. It was rare to hear Joe talk about his military career, partially because he is humble, but also because it was easier that way. I avoided asking questions for fear of stirring up memories or anxiety, but the few times he did share, I gained a better understanding.
Joe and I decided to start talking about his military career more because staying silent helps no one. We learned that inner demons keep a tight grip on us when we suppress and hide certain thoughts and memories. We knew it would be difficult, but we also knew that if we shed enough light on those memories, over time it would force the demons to release their grip and disappear.
In an attempt to support Joe, I went and pulled out his boxes. Inside, were folders of awards, dozens of pictures, letters of accolades and medals and patches that signified his many achievements. I cried. It was the type of cry when mascara is running down your face and you know your eyes are red and puffy, but the waterworks will not shut off. I cried because the person I found in those boxes had been hidden for so long, but everything I found inside made me so proud.
In that moment, I decided to make a wall, one that would celebrate Joe and his military career.
In that moment, I decided to make a wall, one that would celebrate Joe and his military career. I am not a creative person, but with the help of my sister (and Pinterest), I tactfully framed and hung up everything inside the boxes. It is my favorite wall in our house because it celebrates Joe and the chapter of his life that helped mold him into the husband, father, nurse and Veteran that he is today. His wall is a constant reminder that he should always be proud and every Veteran deserves to feel that way.