God blessed me with some of the best friends I could have ever prayed for during our Army tenure. As I drove around Columbus (which hasn't changed all that much) and toured Post I longed to see and be with those friends and families who we did so much life with during that period of our lives. It's kind of sad for me to think that we will not ever be all back together in one place again, it was a special time, a unique situation and I will always look back on those years with fond memories.
I was thrilled to be able to catch up with Angie and Mike Maldonado whom we'd not seen in over six years, which is way.to.long, lets not wait that long next time! Getting to see their beautiful girls who are so grown up now and just getting to visit for an extended period of time was such a treat! Adam and I were once again reminded of what a blessing it is to know that there are Christ followers everywhere but also to see that this precious family is as Christ centered now as when we left them (if not more)!
Angie and Mike have opened Midtown Coffee House which uses coffee beans from Rwanda (a country that has grown near and dear to our family over the past year and half due to friends who are from there that we've gotten to know). So hearing the story of how Angie and Mike found Land of a Thousand Hills, the company that pays their farmers higher than fair trade wage, that is run on Christian principles, was really cool to find out about. I can't wait to hear how Mike and Maddy's trip was, they left for Rwanda just this week. What a privilege to do life with friends (even if from a distance) knowing that at one point, way back when, God gave you to each other at just the right time. For us, the Maldonado's were a God send. They were that couple that was fun to be with and who we shared a lot in common. Just spending three and a half hours with them made me miss our daily encounters and life on the Post.
The next morning we went to visit the new Infantry Museum at Fort Benning. It was amazing and so well done!
Seeing the Infantryman known for saying "Follow Me" was really special at the entrance of the museum.
It was pretty spectacular to walk through and see all the important battles and different wars from WWI to the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT). Adam and his dad really like WWII and enjoyed all the history that the museum had recovered.
In ROTC Adam was awarded the George C. Marshall Award which was a high honor, so to see him and six other men listed next to the Army's seven values was pretty neat.
The boys thought everything was awesome, from the weapons to the armored vehicles, the dress up area to the monuments. Adam and I were so glad to have been able to share with them our small part in American history.
Adam's unit was known as the Sledgehammer Brigade so to see the sledgehammer monuments for 3rd ID was pretty emotional. Reading the list of fallen soldiers who Adam remembers treating in the Aid Station in Ramadi, Iraq evoked many emotional feelings for us both. For him, it was memories of trying to save their lives; for me, it was remembering those 21 gun salutes that I will never be able to sit through without tears pouring from my eyes. Those moments are forever seared in my memory and I'm thankful because I have a patriotic pride that I wouldn't otherwise have. Just seeing the flag flying that day made my throat swell as tears stung my eyes.
Here was Martin Army Community Hospital where Peyton was born, it was a far cry from the newly built and much more modern Martin Army Community Hospital that now stands on Post.
Our walk down memory lane was truly sweet!