As a military community, we all know and appreciate the sacrifice our veterans and their families go through on a daily basis. Sometimes we see it right away as they leave for months on end, or it may not be until some time has passed before we realize just how much they’ve done for us.
I can remember my husband, then boyfriend, telling me I was an amazing cook shortly after he came back from Iraq. He would clean that plate so well, doing the dishes was a breeze. Everything I put in front of him was eaten without a single crumb remaining. My 19-year-old self got quite the ego and thought she was the next Paula Deen. I bragged constantly about my fantastic cooking skills and ability to never disappoint. It wasn’t until a few months later that I discovered just how wrong I was — and it finally hit home that the sacrifice our veterans make is more than just being away from loved ones.
After he returned from deployment we planned a short vacation to visit his family in Oregon. One afternoon during that visit I was half listening to a conversation between him and his grandmother about his tour in Iraq. The particular part I picked up on, was his mentioning of going days and even weeks at times eating nothing be MREs.
Now, I don’t know about y’all, but I have had MREs before and unless you magically get one with a meal’s worth of the pound cake, they leave more than a little to be desired. It was at that moment that my bubble popped, and I realized, no, I am not the next Paula Deen, I just have a soldier who is very happy to be eating a home-cooked meal. Needless to say, I don’t brag about my cooking anymore. (My mediocre cooking skills have further been solidified since he told me his favorite meal I cook is Hamburger Helper.)
As a salute to our veterans, and all the spouses out there who are no longer “Paula Deens” in the making, treat your soldier to a special day of thanks in Liberty County.
1. Take them on a weekend getaway. Send the kiddos to grandma and enjoy the lush gardens and coastal scenery of Dunham Farms. The B&B is offering a half-priced kayaking trip along 5 historic plantations. Learn about the history and folklore of our coastal county while relaxing in your kayak.
2. Give your veteran the day off. If your veteran is anything like mine, he or she might enjoy a chance to just relax. Spend the day at one of Liberty County’s many fishing spots with a picnic lunch and no need to return home before the sun goes down. The weather is beautiful and in case you haven’t seen the Explore Liberty Instagram page, the sunsets are outrageous.
3. Enjoy the parade. Take the family to the annual Liberty County Veterans Day Parade. The event is hosted by the East Liberty County American Legion, Post 321 and will kick off at 4 p.m. Saturday. You can grab a hot dog and cold drink while you enjoy the parade through downtown Hinesville.
4. Visit the new Veterans Memorial Walk. Honor those who fought so hard for our safety and freedom with a walk along the memorial at Bryant Commons. The memorial was just opened and with the help of many community volunteers, as well as outside contributions from Home Depot, it is a beautiful monument to those who served.
5. Take them out to dinner. Treat your veteran (and yourself) to dinner at a local restaurant. Many will be offering discounts or even free meals for our service men and women, so take advantage and hook your soldier up!
It’ll be another home-cooked dinner for my veteran this year, prepared with the help of our 3-year-old. Make no mistake, my cooking skills are still under par but I don’t think he cares that much anyway.
Johnson works for the Liberty County Convention and Visitors Bureau.