A few weeks back, I posted a contest seeking military families
to receive a free Hallmark recordable story book. The winners have been selected.
The first winner is Jillian, whose husband, Nicholas, is currently serving in Iraq. Their son's name is Dominic.
I thought this deployment would be the easiest on our son who celebrated his first birthday just before my husband left. My husband was very sad to leave our son for the first time and was worried he’d forget who he was by the time he returned. I assured my husband that of all times to go, this should be the easiest. I figured our son was too young to feel the impact of him not being around. I was wrong.
My husband has been in the Air Force on active duty for five years and is currently serving in Iraq on his third deployment. This will be the first time for us that he is deployed over all the holidays including Christmas. He’s already served two tours in Afghanistan, which is where he was when our son was born.
Our now 15-month-old baby is more aware that his “daddada” isn’t here than I ever imagined. When my husband first left for Iraq, our son had a hard time adjusting to life without him. He became withdrawn and began throwing tantrums multiple times a day. He also had a very hard time going to bed because the bedtime routine isn’t the same since daddy can’t read to him each night like he did when he was home.
Our son’s personality really changed within a few days of his dad’s departure. I never imagined that someone so young could be impacted so much. It saddened me to know that he was so affected by it and that he isn’t old enough to be told or understand that he’ll be coming home eventually to be with us again.
The one thing that always makes him light up is when he hears his dad’s voice; he smiles, tries to talk back and sometimes even claps his hands. It’s wonderful because he remembers him and is so excited to hear from him but sad of course to know that he’s not here with us.
I’m so thankful for the afternoons when we get to talk to him, but if I answer the phone and it’s not my husband, I still have to put it on speaker because he cries if the phone is hung up and doesn’t get to hear if it’s his dad or not for himself. He thinks he didn’t get to talk to him otherwise!
Receiving this Hallmark Recordable Storybook would be so special to all of us. Our son could finally hear his dad’s voice reading to him at bedtime again and throughout the day. My husband would be able to smile knowing that he’s able to read to our son every night even from thousands of miles away and I’d be so happy to see the joy on our son’s face as he hears daddy’s voice come out through the book.
This storybook would truly be the best Christmas gift for all of us, one that we could enjoy right now and for many years and deployments to come.
Our other winner is Kasie. Here's her entry:
My husband, Robert, is an active duty soldier. We were engaged through the first deployment and got married soon after his return. We found out we were pregnant within 2 months of being married. He took care of me so many times during my pregnancy. I developed some complications late in the pregnancy and he had to come home from the field during training to take care of me. Our son, Hunter, was born, but was in the hospital for a week after birth due to his kidneys not working. My husband never left his side even though he was exhausted. He deployed June 2010, 5 weeks after we found out we were pregnant with our second child. I developed complications early on in this second pregnancy and have been hospitalized. I am now on bed rest which leaves me to care for our, now, two year old son. My husband came home on emergency leave and left his deployment so he could take care of me and our son. He now works on Rear D AND does all of the housework including making meals.
My husband is not one to leave his duty and responsibilities behind. After his first deployment he lost a lot of his hearing. He also has back, ankle, and knee problems from being airborne infantry. None of this ever stopped him from wanting to re-deploy after his first deployment. He had double knee surgery one month before leaving on his second deployment, but was not about to miss it. So, I know that leaving his job was tough in order to come home to take care of his family but he is a wonderful husband and father.
He would use this storybook for our son, who adores him and looks up to his daddy so much. They have a ritual at bedtime to read book and when my husband deploys after our daughter, Hayden, is born, my son would be able to listen to daddy's voice every night.
I can't imagine more deserving winners and Thanksgiving is a great time to remember these heroic families for their sacrifices. Thanks to men and women like these and thousands more, we can freely worship whatever God we wish (or none at all) this Thanksgiving. Thanks Kasie and Jillian for YOUR sacrifices, too!