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Month: May 2020


How I learned to appreciate Memorial Day in a foreign land

Thanks to Covid-19, many Memorial Day activities are canceled or look different. With so many places still closed, it’s the perfect opportunity to reevaluate what Memorial Day is really about. Since I cannot attend my usual activities, I will reflect on our time overseas. Seeing other countries honor our military gave me a renewed appreciation of the meaning of the holiday.

Read more to understand the history of Memorial Day: https://www.pbs.org/national-memorial-day-concert/memorial-day/history/

Observing Memorial Day abroad

Because of my husband’s career in the U.S. Air Force, our family had the opportunity to live overseas in Europe twice. Our second overseas tour was to Belgium where he was the commander of the 424th Air Base Squadron stationed at Chievres, Belgium. Public Affairs would often ask him to attend and participate in memorial services. Many of these events coincided with the day and place a plane crashed during World War II.

Europeans do a great job observing US history in their backyards. During World War II, Chievres Air Base saw activity. Planes flew in and out of Chievres for months supporting their allies. Unfortunately, some aircraft crashed in the surrounding countryside. Those communities to this day still hold ceremonies to memorialize the heroes that sacrificed for their freedoms.

Magnum at ceremony
Magnum at a ceremony in Wodecq, Belgium. ©missykuester.com

On occasion we had activities at the many American cemeteries scattered throughout Europe. While we have been to Arlington Cemetery in the DC area there is something breathtaking about seeing the American cemeteries on foreign land. What is truly remarkable is how our allies honor and memorialize American soldiers. These cemeteries while paid for and monetarily maintained by the American Battles Monuments Commission (https://www.abmc.gov/cemeteries-memorials), are visited by foreign and local visitors. Some cemeteries have adoption programs that allow local people to adopt an American soldier’s grave. 

Celebrating American heroes in Normandy

We also had the opportunity to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the invasion at Normandy. To walk the beaches that many of our country’s men stormed and died on is humbling. But what struck me the most was how the many non-Americans were there celebrating, honoring, and depicting roles of American soldiers. When tourists found out we were Americans they enthusiastically thanked us and wanted to share their stories and appreciation. How can you not be moved by other citizens celebrating what your countrymen did for them?

Boys at Utah Beach
Our boys at Utah Beach in Normandy France

Not the usual Memorial Day

So, your usual cookout, camping trip or other 3 day weekend looks different this year? That’s okay. Maybe we have gotten out of hand with our celebrations. Hopefully this year, we can focus on what Memorial Day represents. This might be the year that it really sinks in for you. It finally hit me when and where I least expected. Standing on foreign soil was when I understand what Memorial Day truly meant. I hope you experience the true meaning of Memorial Day this year. Thank you to all who answered the call and ultimately gave their lives so that we could live a life in freedom.

A man’s country is not a certain area of land, of mountains, rivers, and wood, but it is a principle, and patriotism is loyalty to that principle.    George William Curtis

Missy in boat with Delilah

Have you heard about Missy Kuester?

Hi, I’m Missy Kuester. I never quite fit in. In high school I was never popular, however I was funny and outgoing. Fast forward to many years later, my husband and I were at our first Air Force duty station. Suddenly, I felt like I was back in high school, I didn’t quite fit in. I tried to be someone other who I already was and got caught up in comparing myself to others. I longed to belong to a group. Then a friend with 15 years more experience than me asked why I was hanging out with her and a bunch of old ladies. As I told her, I wanted to be more like them, confident and experienced. I wanted to absorb all the information I could. Above all, I wanted to fit in. She assured me that who people needed was exactly who I was. From that point on, I have tried to be authentic and true to myself, something that is not easy in the military world full of its rituals and customs.

More than just a military wife…

While 23 years as a military wife has given me a variety of experiences and lessons, I am so much more. I am a good friend who just wants everyone in a room to feel like they belong and that their uniqueness is what we need. I have moved a lot so I know what it’s like to be the new person and I have a knack for finding the new person in the room. In addition, I am a wife and mother who has messed up. My personal stories and experiences may make you feel better as a wife and mother. What I want you to know is that you are not alone. While I may have advice it’s not because I have always done things right but rather because sometimes, I wish I would have done it differently.

Why you should listen to me?

It took nearly all my life to realize that way back in high school, I was a social chameleon. I didn’t fit in because I didn’t belong to any one group. Today, it’s a trait that makes me able to relate to a variety of people. I want to break the stereotypes of being a military officer’s spouse, a Christian, or a stay-at-home mom who desperately wants to see her dog become famous. My collection of friends is diverse and I wouldn’t wish for it to be any other way. In a way, I believe people appreciate my authenticity and suddenly I find that I am not such an outcast.

This blog is just a place for me to share my stories, advice, and flubs. My goal is to be funny, authentic and non-judgmental. I want you to come to this blog and leave knowing that you are not alone and are appreciated for being you. You can expect my own personal stories as well as quotes, scriptures and stories I have found. So, come sit by me and let’s build a community that is safe and full of different people. I hope you will even share your thoughts, stories, quotes and blogs.