‘I do know one thing about my sister, no matter where she is, or how long she is out of uniform or rank, she will always be a protector. Not just of me, not just her family, but this country.’
The memories shared, both good and bad
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma — My sister Dena recently came to visit us from her home in Missouri. Fortunately, we get to see her a lot more than we use to.
She served over 15 years in the U.S. Armed Forces in the Army Branch retiring with the rank of staff sergeant. She is happily married now with her husband, James who is still in the Army along with her two girls, two dogs and two cats.
I know she served in Iraq, Afghanistan, Korea and military bases throughout the U.S. It is funny how some people might think because I am a boxer that I protect her.
Honestly, it has always been the other way around. She protects me. My sister has always been my hero. Long before she was in the Army, she was my protector.
There have been many times when I cried for her, prayed and thought about her. I still do. One moment for instance, was when the psychiatrist started shooting at the soldiers at the base in Ft. Hood, Texas. My sister was not far from the shooting.
I remember her calling me to tell me she was on lockdown and that her and her husband were ok but I needed to let our mom know what was going on because things were going to get crazy and phone lines were going to be down.
Even after she reassured me, I was scared for her.
She was nine months pregnant at the time so numerous things were going through my head. Like my sister always does she watched over people that were there and she let me know that people were watching over her.
They were doing what I should have been doing.
There were numerous scary moments while she was in service, but that is enough of those. I will tell you my favorite story of when she was in the service.
Before 9/11, people could walk to the gate at the airport and wait for whoever was getting off the plane. My mother and I were waiting on my sister to return home. This was in her early days so she had to have been still in training.
I remember the day before she was set to arrive, we were talking about how much we were looking forward to seeing her and having her back with us.
My mom and I made our way to the gate looking at the screens to see if her flight had been delayed or on time. Thankfully, it was on time.
While we were waiting, we saw her plane arriving at the gate. Eventually, we saw the people start to leave the jetway from the plane and we were both looking to try and find Dena.
No Dena. I was afraid she missed her flight.
Then I saw a young lady running in the middle of everyone and everyone was being pushed to the sides. It was very comical.
It looked like a scene from a cartoon. Of course, it was my sister (who else would do something like that?).
She saw us and we ran towards her and the three of us hugged and tears immediately fell from our eyes.
That is one of my favorite memories of her.
Fast-forward a lot of years. The hugs are still there, the tears still flow from time to time, but it is great knowing she is only a few hours away. Not a few days.
Now, Dena and her daughters spend a lot of time texting our mother as much as they can. It could be over the smallest thing.
When she was halfway around the world, she would call around four in the morning. My mom looked forward to those calls. Half asleep, those calls made her day.
The memories, good and bad, are there to stay. I know they have stayed with her but she laughs, smiles and says, ‘I love you,’ constantly like she did when she was in the service.
New memories are being made now that she is out of the service. I am sure these memories will outweigh any bad ones.
I do know one thing about my sister, no matter where she is, or how long she is out of uniform or rank, she will always be a protector. Not just of me, not just her family, but also this country.