Why We Celebrate Military Spouse Day

May 6 is Military Spouse Day. But in a time with "National Goof Off Day," and "Pig in a Blanket Day," it's easy to overlook the passing of this day without much reflection on what it means. Or what it should mean.

Certainly, this day marks an important opportunity for people to thank military spouses for all that they do. It provides a time for considering the challenges that military spouses face and what we all can do to help lessen some of these challenges.

But these sentiments miss the point.

What Military Spouse Day should really be about is to allow everyone to take a step back and stand in awe at some of the strongest and most resolute groups in our country. Yes, we have faced many difficulties in our lives as military spouses. And we will face many more in the future. But we are not victims. Don't kid yourself; we are not afraid of the hardships and we will continue to meet them head on.

Military spouses should not have your sympathy; they should have your admiration and deference. In this regard, military spouses have a natural link with another often underappreciated and misunderstood group in our society: teachers.

This week also marks National Teacher Appreciation Week. Just like military spouses, our teachers are uniquely capable of overcoming the challenges they face. Having been an educator myself for over twenty years, I have seen firsthand the sacrifices that teachers make, all for the advancement of our children.

I was a military spouse for four decades. My husband - retired four-star General Carter Ham - had a career in the U.S. Army that saw us move 26 times and transfer our children into new schools all across the country and the world. It was always comforting to know that outstanding teachers would be my ally in assuring that my children would be getting the best education possible, regardless of where we lived.
This experience is what led a group of military spouses to form Military Families for High Standards, an initiative that advocates for consistent academic standards in our children's K-12 education. Since we launched just a couple of months ago, I have been thrilled to see the strides that can be made when military spouses work together. Military Families for High Standards is a perfect example of why military spouses should be recognized on this day.

We are not "silent heroes," and we don't identify as victims of a difficult lifestyle made grimmer by the last decade and a half of war. Instead, military spouses - and teachers - provide an example in this country for people who refuse to be hindered by a challenging way of life, and continue to be willing to take on hardship, knowing in their minds that they are part of a much bigger picture.

It seems fitting that Military Spouse Day should fall during National Teacher Appreciation Week. The education of military-connected children is not a challenge that we can afford to overlook in the face of adversity. Military spouses and our teachers are exactly who I want fighting this battle.