A Trip to Washington, D.C.

A Trip to Washington, D.C.

From Chicken Soup for the Military Wife's Soul

A Trip to Washington, D.C.

You must learn to be still in the midst of activity and to be vibrantly alive in repose.

Indira Gandhi

I wanted to write something special for the June FRG newsletter since the army was celebrating 225 years of service, but I couldn’t find the words. I tried writing about Sergeant York and General Bradley, but it all just felt cold. Nothing I wrote conveyed what I had in my mind.

Ultimately, I found my muse in Washington, D.C., while we were sitting in ringside seats, watching the Spirit of America. I was armed with three different cameras that day, and, between the three of them, I must have taken more than a hundred photographs.

I am what my husband calls “a shutterbug.” Unless I’m only planning on going to the grocery store, when I leave the house, I bring a camera. Since I started taking pictures, I have longed to catch the perfect moment on film, and, until now, my favorite subjects were my family.

We were sitting so close that I could see the froth on the horses as they fought the bits in their mouths during the cavalry unit show. I thrilled at the pageantry of the army while we watched the drill team and musical corps. And there it was: my dream picture, the photograph of a lifetime, appeared before me.

A retired general from the airborne division—a man in his seventies who had fought in World War II, Korea and Vietnam—sat beside us with his wife. When the 82nd Airborne chorus sang their song, the general stood at attention.

The composition was perfect. I was looking at the back of a soldier who had served his time. He stood as straight as his body would allow. I took in the gray hair, the liver spots on his shaky hands and the stoop in his shoulders.

To his right, I saw the chorus, young soldiers with muscular arms and slim waists. The ramrod-straight spines of youth. To his left, I saw his wife’s profile. She had been by his side throughout his military career, and was with him today. The love and pride on her face shone clearly in her expression.

In the time it took the chorus to sing the song, I found and lost my perfect photograph. Even though I had those three cameras and plenty of film left, I didn’t take it. I didn’t want to disturb the sanctity of that moment. But I will keep that image in my mind to remember two things: at heart, a soldier never leaves the army, and a military spouse’s pride and love know no timeline.

Abigail L. Hammond

More stories from our partners