The Home of the Brave

The Home of the Brave


For all the incredible men and women who have fought to make this country the land of the free and the home of the brave…..

….I salute you.

And for those they left behind at home….

….those amazing individuals who watched them leave with tears and a heavy heart….

….all those who stood in silent support on the home front with worry and uncertainty and prayers for a safe return….

….this story is for you. 🙂

burlap-flag - 750 x 500

A long time ago in a land far away……I stood in a navy dress with brass buttons and shoulder pads wearing bright red lipstick as my Lee Press-On Nails desperately clutched a chain link fence and tears streamed down my face…..

….and I watched as my new husband sailed away.

Silently I sobbed and cried as the ship got smaller and smaller…..frantically running down the fence with eyes blinded by tears to try to catch one more glimpse before the ship turned the corner and headed out of the harbor.

Hundreds and hundreds of sailors lined the decks of the ship that day….standing at attention with their crisp white uniforms gleaming in the sun and their heads held high….as they left to fight the unknown.

Not one of those sailors knew what the future held.

Not one of those sailors knew what the fighting would bring.

Not one of those sailors knew if they would even return home.

And still they sailed on.

fourth back porch

Days and weeks went by….and as the country watched….the conflict escalated.

Until one day I arrived at work to see terrifying night-time pictures flashing across the national news with bomb after bomb and explosion after explosion….

….a half a world away.

The fighting had begun.

And when I saw those explosions…..I stood silently as my world crumbled around me.

I was here and he was there…..

…..and the sheer helplessness of the situation overwhelmed me.

I wanted to talk to him….for him to reassure me that he was alright and that he was coming home and that he was going to sail back into the harbor on a sunny day wearing his dress whites on the deck of that ship….

….and that all was right with the world.

But it wasn’t.

And I felt my heart crack in two.

fourth outside

And then….suddenly……I heard my name over the loud-speaker at work.  They said they needed me in the office….that I needed to go at once…..that I had a call from an officer.

A call?


From an officer?

I didn’t want a call.

Not even a little.

All the calls I had ever seen in the movies from officers during a war…..never ended well.

I entered the office and with shaking hands took the phone…..and I think I said hello…..the smallest tiniest hello I have ever said in my entire life that sounded like a cross between a squeak and a whisper.

“Mrs. Wood….this is a ship to shore call.  We have your husband on the line.  Please be aware that all conversations on this call will be repeated several times to transfer information to the ship.  Please begin when you are ready,” boomed a loud voice at me over the line.

I didn’t understand.

A ship to shore call?

I didn’t know what to say… I simply said “Hello again?”

And then I heard it…..across the miles of land and ocean……the hello repeated from military personnel to military personnel……over and over and over again.

“Hello again.”  “Hello again.”  “Hello again.” “Hello again.”

fourth garden view

Until it reached my husband half a world away.

And then the message came back from that sailor on a distant shore……”Hi cutie…..I’m fine.” ”Hi cutie…..I’m fine.” ”Hi cutie…..I’m fine.” ”Hi cutie…..I’m fine.”

He was fine?

He was okay?

He was safe?

I screamed and giggled and spun around and the heavens parted and I heard the hallelujah chorus.  And then I shouted into the phone with all of the joy and exuberance and adoration I could muster…….”I LOOOOOOOOVVVVVVVE YOOOOOOOU.”

Except I forgot.

You see….the “I love you” didn’t end there.

It wasn’t just between us.

There were five people listening on the call.





They smiled as they repeated it……those veteran military personnel.

And each of them said it with all the joy that my “I love you” was intended to convey.

And in the end…..

…..I didn’t care if the world was listening.

Because that sailor with the brown twinkling eyes didn’t miss a word.

And he knew that I adored him.

And would be waiting for the day he returned.

And winging its way back across that ship to shore line with the static and the beeps and the blips via half a dozen scratchy military voices….

.….he sent me the sweetest “I love you” I ever heard. :)

PS  I know I’ve told this story before….but a holiday isn’t a holiday….

…..without a happily ever after.   🙂

Happy Memorial Day.

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  1. A very touching story and the best way to start out my Memorial Day today. Thank you for sharing your heart and the pictures to go with it. Happy Memorial Day to you!

  2. You know only so well what it is to have a loved one go off to war. I applaud you for the courage you showed then and thank you for saluting the troops now. Love you

  3. It always makes me cry. You love each other very well.

  4. I love this story. I love this story. I love this story. I love this story.
    Share it any time. Share it any time. Share it any time. Share it any time.

  5. I tried not to cry! Fail. Beautiful story!

  6. Okay I’m crying again and I’ve only read this story a half dozen times but it always leaves me teary happy. I can’t even see the screen or what I’m typing. Thank you KariAnne and wish you many more happy years with your twinkling brown eyed sailor. I wish all those brave men and women could see a happy ending. They deserve that and much more. I married an airman and my son is an Army officer. We have a wonderful country — God bless America.

  7. Sylvia Marie :

    Proud to be an Ameican…. Thank you for sharing!

  8. Great story. God bless you and your husband. Happy Memorial Day!

  9. Miz karianne,

    The last time you shared this story, I had to read it through teary eyes and a little lump in my throat….sigh….

    …..nothing has changed. I love this love story of yours!

    A GREAT Memorial Day to you and yours

  10. Regena Fickes :

    Thank you for sharing from one whose husband came home, also. He left whole and came home broken from Viet Nam. The place name doesn’t matter, the love does. As always, from my heart to yours, a hug.

  11. It’s a story worth repeating. I cry every time! xo ~Sally

  12. I teared up but with a joyful smile on my face…beautiful story sweet friend! Happy Day ~Sonya

  13. Beautiful wonderful love story! Tears ….again. Bless you and your sparkly eyed hubby:)

  14. My husband’s birthday is Sunday and our forty-third anniversary is eleven days after. My children, grandchildren, and I are ever so blessed to have our Marine return from war. God bless all veterans each and every day. And may He continue His blessings on you and your family.

  15. I could hear this story a hundred times and never get tired of it! XO

  16. Thank you for the precious reminder about Memorial Day and our veterans! I can only imagine the anxiety every time you saw or heard a story about a navy ship. We are all blessed because you both served our country, one far, far away and the other at home! I’m very grateful! We have lost so many to keep our beloved country free. God bless America!

  17. Made me cry.

  18. Jennifer Ferrell :

    This beautiful love story NEVER gets old! Thanks for sharing again:). You and those twinkling brown eyes have a wonderful holiday! God Bless America!!!! Love y’all:):):):)

  19. You brought back the memories. My Airman flew off into the blue. My feelings were the same. The nightly news was not my friend! He came home safely and we will celebrate our 52nd in September. You brought tears and chills but also the feelings of joy.

  20. Having walked in your shoes, literally … I so know the anticipation, joy & love. Those emotions as the ship pulls out of sight does tear our heart out, leaving you alone with constant worry & s missing our loved ones. What a marvelous write, Karianne. It brought many a years of emotions & memories & love back as if today …
    TTFN ~ Marydon
    PS TY for such a beautiful write.

  21. Oh, and I love you toooooooooooo! Happy Memorial Day to you and yours’!!!!

  22. Peggy Zortman :

    Please tell Mr. Brown Twinkling Eyes thank you. And thank you. Happy Memorial Day!

  23. Amen!!!! Beautiful story!!! I love it every time!!! Today we remember our friends we lost, they gave all for us. Today I’m thankful my husband returned from war safely, but our hearts will always be a bit broken for those we lost!!! Thank you for reminding us all what Memorial Day truly means….
    We will never forget….
    Spc Tommy Foley
    PFC Daniel Parker
    PFC John Brown
    LCpl Brian Hopper

  24. Such a beautiful story….as a sister that said good by to three brothers going to Viet Nam..they all came home but not unscathed..and the mother of two sons serving with the Air Force…I thank you and your husband. Nothing equals saying good – by to our loved ones and staying home always wondering and watching my dear daughters in law taking care of the little ones with out Daddy…

  25. Please give your sailor a kiss from me and tell him I said thank you. I have already kissed my sailor and thanked him too.

  26. I was a young military wife to a sailor. My spouse today, is a former solider. Many relatives and friends served in one branch or another. It’s so important for people TO REMEMBER. It may have been a while ago, or is today or in any of our tomorrows. But we MUST REMEMBER and be supportive, both during duty and AFTER their service ends.

    I love your post . . . every time I read it.

  27. So sweet, and just right for today. Thank you!

  28. This story never ever gets old! You make me feel like I was there!

  29. Love this story! Thanks for the service to our country… is greatly appreciated! Theda

  30. Dear Karianne,
    Thank you for sharing this wonderful
    story. I don’t think any of us will tire
    of hearing it. We must all remember
    that Memorial Day should be a solemn
    day spent remembering those who paid
    the ultimate sacrifice for us to live in
    a free country. We have Veterans Day
    to remember all those who have served.
    As a Navy brat I am grateful for my
    father’s service and for all who have
    served and continue to serve. God Bless
    America, God Bless our troops, and may
    God continue to bless you and your
    family Karianne. Thank you for inspiring
    us and reminding us of what true love

  31. Thank you for sharing this sweet story. My family has a long military history and I am grateful to all who serve such a sacrifice. Cheryl Ann

  32. Thank you for the lovely story. It’s a great memory story. Yesterday my husband and I attended a Vietnam ceremony. A young marine spoke about wonderful memories growing up with his grandfather during the 3 day Memorial Holiday. He spoke about fun times, picnics and playing balls etc. But on Memorial Day his grandfather did not say much, just stayed to himself most of the day. As a young boy, never understood. But as he grew realized why. His grandfather lost his memory and he did not get a chance to talk with him about things but felt he would be very proud of him. (He was a young, strong, sweet marine.) I’m so sure his grandfather is more than proud of him.)

  33. Pure sweetness Mrs. Wood!!

    THANK YOU for sharing your story—because in a world that offers plenty of pain and challenges, struggles and batttles—it’s wonderful just to peek into your Thistelwood world and enjoy your “happily ever after”!!!!

    And really…that’s what God wants for all of us….not just for now….but really and truly, ever after, happily!!!!
    “Happy are those who make the LORD their trust…” Psalm 40:4!

    Thanks and hugs!!!
    Lisa Hains

  34. I remember this story and it is a perfect way to end this Memorial day. You 2 are a PERFECT PAIR and I salute you both!!!

  35. Pamela Bolton :

    Thank you. My eyes filled with tears for a out the 10th time today. Thank your husband for his service and thank you for loaning him to us.

  36. Amen, and Amen! Love this, KariAnne, and love YOU! 🙂

  37. This is the first I’ve had to check e-mails since Friday. Here at work. Wearing my brand new mascara I bought this weekend with a c o u p o n….not water proof. 🙂

  38. I could read this story over and over….and I thank him for his brave service to our country!…

  39. I don’t know what it is about your stories but they always, always, always make me cry. But sometimes that is exactly what you need. So thank you, thank you, thank you.