Barhite: Military girlfriend has new appreciation for July 4thWritten by Brandi Barhite | Community Ombudsman | firstname.lastname@example.org
Laura Simmons, operations manager at the Lucas County Dog Warden’s Office, worked a half day on the Fourth of July.
She also went to the beach and the park because she promised her 31-year-old boyfriend, Luke Wark of Sandusky, that she would do something fun.
But she was still preoccupied.
The holiday used to be, “Oh, whatever, Fourth of July, yay,” she said, but since Wark is serving in Afghanistan, it is much more serious.
“It means a whole lot more. And Memorial Day took on a whole new meaning, too,” she said. Wark signed the papers with the National Guard right before they began hanging out in January 2010.
“I didn’t think he was going to go overseas. I said, ‘That is so cool, that is so exciting,’ ” Simmons said. “We didn’t know where our relationship was going to go.”
Spc. Wark volunteered for Afghanistan after being asked if he wanted to go. He might have been forced to go eventually, but this time around he wanted to go, she said.
“He is the left-door gunner in the helicopter. He never tells me all the details. I am not sure if he can or if he just doesn’t want to scare me.”
Text messaging and Skyping help with the distance and the constant worrying. She usually hears from him at least once per day, which eases her mind. On the Fourth of July, she posted on his Facebook, “So proud of you mister!” He replied, “Thanks hun, proud of you too!”
“We are able to talk every day right now,” Simmons said. “When he first left, we didn’t know if we could even talk once per week. Knowing how he is doing is a huge relief.”
One time she received a text from him that said there had been a car bomb at his base, but he was OK and to tell his family.
But then she didn’t hear from him again for 48 hours.
“I was in tears all day,” she said.
One thing Simmons never expected was to receive so much support as a military girlfriend. People thank her for both of their sacrifices. Some of his friends even took her out for her 27th birthday because he couldn’t.”
“People realize that our guys are over there, and there are families here who are making sacrifices, too,” she said.
The couple’s latest sacrifice is no summer visit.
“He will be back before Thanksgiving, but we don’t know for sure. He was supposed to come home for a two-week leave during the summer, and we had some fun things planned. It was kind of a bummer that it was canceled.”
Simmons said it helps when other people take the Fourth of July as seriously as she does now.
“It isn’t just the picnics and the fireworks. There is a whole other side, and people need to remember that.”