it all happened at once

It was unexpected.

We went to our small town’s annual Memorial Day Parade with Eddie.

Eddie loves parades.

It’s not that we weren’t thinking about the meaning of the parade, but when you have a toddler you are mostly thinking of how he will like the drums.

And of course we were watching for Great Grand-dad in the group of WWII vets.

the strapping young man on the left is my paternal grandpa

and just after we waved to Great Grand Dad, it happened.

I wasn’t prepared.

A car of WWII vets drove by.

Eddie waved.

One kind vet saluted my son.

My small, blue-eyed, blond curly headed boy watched intently as the kind-faced vet rolled away in his car.

The crowd continued to stand and clap.

More vets rolled by.

And my thoughts followed my little boy up through school and beyond high school.

It never occurred to me until that moment that my son might choose the military.

Neither Cort’s dad nor mine did.

But Cort’s stepdad, both my grandpas, Cort’s maternal grandpa, and his uncle did.

College was the assumed path for my husband, me, and our siblings.

But what if Eddie chooses to give himself to his country and serve?

My heart started beating with the pride of that possibility.  Of  my son in uniform.

Just then the Gold Star Mothers rode past.

And my heart fell out of my chest.

I realized whatever Eddie chooses, my heart will explode with pride and break with worry.

all at once.


Sluiter Nation would like to thank all the men and women who have chosen to serve the United States of America.

You are so brave.

We honor you.

Happy Memorial Day.

About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.


  1. This gave me chills Katie. I can’t imagine what those mothers have gone through.

  2. mrshiggison says

    A lovely tribute.
    They have given all, I’m sure it meant a lot to those mothers to see you line that parade route.
    And likely? They looked at your Eddie & retraced their own childrens’ steps back to childhood.

  3. Beautiful, as always. I love your blogs, but this really hit home! You are a great example!

  4. What a moment!! Such beautiful words to epxress something that imagine so many mothers battle each day.

  5. This crossed my mind only once and never thought of it again. As much pride as I have in all the brave soldiers who fought and continue to fight, I don’t want my son to be a part of them. I know that is not my choice to make, and I also know that if it comes to that, I will be supportive of my son’s decision. But if I’m going to be honest? Without fear of a backlash or judgment for what I’m about to say? I hope he doesn’t choose the military. I hope he chooses to go to college, marry off, give me beautiful grandchildren, work on weekdays, and spend Sundays having lunch with me and the rest of the family. I hope he chooses to be brave and serve his country some other way. It’s selfish, yes, but I honestly, genuinely hope never to have that feeling in my heart of fear or trepidation, of waiting desperately to hear whether my son is going to make it home or not. 🙁

  6. Oh, beautiful!

  7. Holy crap, friend. Now I’m crying at the thought of “what if.”

  8. Fabulous post!