Friday is Military Spouse Appreciation Day. The day is celebrated on the Friday before Mother’s Day. The day recognizes and pays tribute to the contributions and sacrifices our military spouses make every single day.

President Ronald Reagan recognized the importance of the commitment of military spouses to the readiness of our service members in a proclamation in 1984. In 1999, Congress officially made the day part of National Military Appreciation Month.

There are so many words that describe a military spouse; dedicated, loyal, kind, courageous, thoughtful, strong, supportive, resilient, respectful and so many more. I became a military spouse six years ago. It is not what I expected. It is everything that I expected. Although, when I think back, I am not really sure what I expected. I am sure many of you feel the same way.

To the military spouses that came before me, thank you. Thank you for paving the way. Thank you for crafting and creating the traditions we have. I am lucky enough to know so many military spouses who are enjoying the next adventure, those who continue to be the backbone of their families and now stand to provide guidance to the next generation of military spouses.

What I take from those military spouses who came before me, to include my mother-in-law, is strength. Communication was different just a decade ago, and in knowing how much harder things were then, I feel lucky. We live in an age where there are cell phones, text messages, social media messages and WiFi. On every deployment, I have said I am the lucky one; lucky because I didn’t have to wait months for a letter or years for a return. I am lucky enough to have continuous (albeit disjointed) contact.

What I am grateful for is the path they layed. At times, for some event or another when I may be griping about, my husband will say to me, “it is tradition.” I am then taken back to a time where traditions meant something. Sometime more so than I think they do now. I hope as the present generation of military spouses that we make you proud and grow and adapt some of the long-standing traditions.

To the military spouses currently standing alongside your active duty service member, thank you. Thank you for being my sounding board, emergency contact, porch sitting pal and so much more. Some of you have done this for decades more than me. Some of you for much less. It is a different kind of service to that of our spouse, but it is one that provides value to our fellow military families. It provides value to our service members — a value that we can’t ever put a price on.

To the military spouses yet to join the ranks, thank you. Thank you for letting your love serve this great nation. It won’t always be easy, but it is most rewarding. It will be something that forces you to dig deep to find a strength you didn’t know even existed. You will find the greatest of friends. Your love and character may be tested at times. But know this, your love for your service member is the greatest gift you could ever give because it comes with the greatest gift to this nation.

I often hear the phrase, “military spouses are silent heroes,” and that may be true in the sense that we don’t look for recognition. We just do what we have to. We love. We care. We stand up. We hold on. However, military spouses are not silent when it comes to pulling together, doing what needs to be done to keep our family and other families together in good times and bad.

So this week, I say thanks to all those military spouses that came before me, to those who currently stand with me, and those yet to travel down this incredible and fulfilling path.

Reena O’Brien is a military spouse and Herald correspondent. She lives at Fort Hood.

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