February 26, 2013

God Speed, Soldiers

Today, my heart is heavy, but simultaneously filled with pride and gratitude. This morning 236 members of the 1st Battalion, 214th Field Artillery (1/214th) Georgia National Guard (the Granite Battalion), which is headquartered in my hometown, left the morning to embark on their year old deployment in Afghanistan.

Last week the men and women of this battalion were honored in a farewell parade where they marched the through the streets to the town square where a ceremony was held in their honor. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend, but from what I was told it was heart-warming to say the least. This is one of the things I do miss about living in such a small town. The community never fails to pull together and rally around those in need of help, or in this case support and utmost gratitude.

The man closest to the center is Jordan Pattesron. He is a part of the King's Ridge family, and is one of the nicest people I have ever had the chance to meet. What a leader this man is! He is leaving behind a newborn son, wife, and a school full of students waiting for his safe return. 

This morning was the morning these soldiers and their families had been dreading--the day they embarked on their journey. They traveled today to Camp Shelby in Mississippi where they will continue prepping and doing extensive training for about a month before they head overseas to Afghanistan for at least a year. 

This sweet couple is Miranda and Ty McCarty. They are newlyweds about to undergo their first deployment together. I have the ultimate respect for Miranda and the strength she has to be able to say goodbye and to remain here at home doing an equally important job of supporting the man she loves, regardless of the circumstance or the distance. 

My mom's office was along the route that the buses took as they left town. Her entire company, along with the rest of the town, lined the streets again with flags, and posters in a send off that would make any town, much less a small one, proud. Just the thought of the patriotism expressed today sends chills up my spine. I am already a sucker for anything red, white, and blue, but things like this totally have a way of pulling at my heart strings. 

Today does bring a lot of things back into perspective for me. We really do take for granted everything this brave men and women are sacrificing in order for us to keep our freedoms. While we sleep peacefully in our own beds, spend times with our loved ones, and enjoy the little blessings in life that we are so lucky to have, say a prayer for these brave soldiers for the competition of their mission and their safe return to their equally brave families. 

I must also give credit for most of these photos to DeAnna Segars of Beyond the Lens Photography for being there for these families to capture such raw, intimate moments that they will cherish throughout this deployment, and for many years to come.

Thank You & God Speed, Soldiers.

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