I Didn't Understand My Dad's Sacrifice Until I Was An Adult

Imagine for a second that you’re sitting in a magnificent, Naval airplane hangar. You’re surrounded by pomp and circumstance in an extremely formal ceremony. The families and military members are dressed to the nines. There is a feeling of sophistication in the room. It becomes very evident – this is a big deal.

Then, imagine a rambunctious, 7-year-old brunette running around like a mad woman in front of those people… That was me!

Growing up, my father served as a Commander in the United States Navy. We lived on a military base in Rota, Spain. To everyone else, he was the Skipper or “The Boss” of the squadron. To me, he was just my dad.

Sometimes, when you’re a kid, you have a very narrow-minded perspective of your parents. The world knows them as people – sometimes with very meaningful roles. As a child, you just see them as your parents.

To a certain extent, I understood that my dad’s job was significant. Like… EVERYONE knew my dad. The whole place was my playground and no one could tell me otherwise. It was pretty cool to be able to run through the halls of the airplane hangar and swivel around in my dad’s super cool desk chair. That’s what it means to be a Commander, right? Super cool swivel desk chairs?

It’s been a humbling time as I’ve gotten older to learn some things from behind the curtain. I hear the stories I wasn’t privy to as a child. I’ve learned of the loss of friends and colleagues that my father experienced. I’ve learned of the sacrifice my mother made each time we had to pick up and move. I’ve learned of the sheer magnitude of what it means to be a member of the United States Military.

I’ve also realized how crucial it is to show that appreciation. The military is a job that most people don’t fully understand. The responsibility, the dedication, the sacrifice.

It reminds me of the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross for our sins. He could have turned around, he could have walked away, he could have left us to pay for our sins. He chose, instead, to step into the path of harm to protect us.

As a child, I could see that my father was doing something important. It seemed important because other people said it was important.

As an adult, I am able to appreciate what that actually means. My father was the Commander of an entire squadron of men and women protecting this country. He was responsible for their lives and the lives of their families there and beyond.

We have the opportunity to go about our daily lives because of the sacrifice that men and women in the military make, sometimes when they’re halfway around the world. It means stepping into harm's way, no matter the cost. It means standing up for what you believe in. It means protecting those that may never even realize. Oftentimes, we don’t ever even hear about these moments. Yet, these men and women still continue to serve, without expecting anything in return.

I am humbled and honored to fully understand the sacrifice made by the men and women in the military... including my dad.

Katie Hamill serves at 95.1 SHINE-FM as Director of Digital Media.