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A Joint Parents’ Day Perspective

The Maple family (From Rear Left) Chief Master Sgt. Jessica Maple, Blaze, Staff Sgt. L.J, Maple and Cade. (Front Left) Dakota and Gavin Maple

The Maple family (From Rear Left) Chief Master Sgt. Jessica Maple, Blaze, Staff Sgt. L.J, Maple and Cade. (Front Left) Dakota and Gavin Maple

By Chief Master Sgt. Jessica Maple, 115th Fighter Wing

Parents’ Day is a celebrated holiday similar to Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, except on Parents’ Day, we pay a joint tribute to both parents. Parents’ Day promotes the message that the role of the parent is important in human development, which requires investment, focus, and commitment. Most children will tell you they celebrate their parents throughout the year, and in today’s society, a parent can be a subjective title. At times, relatives, friends or even a kind-hearted stranger may parent a child.

As the saying goes, everyday should be Parents’ Day. Of course as a child, we don’t realize the full scope of what our parents sacrifice for us on a daily basis. Most parents put their children’s needs and wants before their own and before we know it, they are young adults. We always wonder where the time has gone and hope that we did a good job raising them. However, only our children can truly attest to our efforts.

Our household is very joint, in a couple of ways. I currently serve in the Wisconsin Air National Guard as the Human Resource Advisor to the Madison, Wisconsin-based 115th Fighter Wing and Volk Field Airmen. It is my passion to take care of others in all aspects of my life. My husband, L.J. Maple, is a Wisconsin Army National Guard Drill Sergeant with the Recruit Sustainment Program in Merrill, Wisconsin.

We met 17 years ago in Washington D.C. while L.J. was serving on active duty with the Marine Corps Honor Guard, and I was serving with the Washington D.C. Air National Guard. In 2001 we moved back to Wisconsin, and I transferred units and L.J. transitioned to the Army National Guard.

At that point, we had two small boys, and as all military parents know, life as we knew it would soon change after September, 2001. In our household, we did not both want to be deployed at the same time. It was not best for our family. We made the tough decision that I would deploy and L.J. would separate at the end of his term of service to be at home with the boys.

That didn’t last long. After another break in service L.J. wanted back in, as he too had a passion for helping others. He found it as a drill sergeant. In 2010, we had already been through four deployments. Thankfully we had the support of family. My parents and only brother lived nearby to help L.J. care for our children while I was deployed. Later that year, tragedy struck when my brother was killed in a motorcycle accident. Our household was now growing, as I stepped into my brother’s shoes to become a co-guardian to his two-year-old daughter and four-year-old son.

After another deployment in 2013, and now at 19 years of service, I realized that I missed a collective total of two years of my boys’ lives and more than a year of my niece’s and nephew’s. I also have a greater understanding of being a parent and a true sense of gratitude toward parents, especially my husband. Like many others, he openly accepted two small children into his life with no biological connection and is selflessly parenting them as his own. Not to mention that caring for four children while the other parent is deployed is no easy task. I am forever grateful!

As joint military parents we’re always trying to deconflict our schedules. In addition to serving in the Wisconsin National Guard, we both work full-time and serve the community while spending time with our children. As with so many families, our military values and concepts transfer into civilian life, especially mentoring. As parents, we coach and teach our children in all that we do. From coaching sporting events, volunteering in local community events and simple daily interactions, we find ourselves emulating fundamentals from our own parents.

I know that so many of us recall being in the hangar either pre- or post- deployment and can remember hearing leadership state the importance of our family support system. It is such a true statement that we (Soldiers and Airmen) cannot have a successful mission without the support or our family and friends back home helping to tend to daily family needs. Most of us truly comprehend and appreciate the sacrifices that our spouses make in our absence throughout our military career.

Not only today, but each day, be thankful and keep in mind all that your parents have done for you, all that spouse does to support you and your children, and continue to pay it forward in your parenting each day. Remember to go out and celebrate your family together, make memories and thank your parents and spouse for all of their support throughout the years.

Happy Parents’ Day!

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Celebrating our nation’s independence

July 4, 2015Iwo Jima Memorial at Dusk

As John Adams famously said of our Independence Day, “It ought to be celebrated by pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other…”


Our second president was right. Independence Day is a day for rejoicing in our nation’s freedom and our ability to pursue life, liberty and happiness. It’s a day for celebrating everything that makes this country the greatest free nation in the world and to take stock of the good fortune we all have to call ourselves Americans.


It’s also a day to celebrate the fact that 239 years ago, our forefathers stood up and boldly declared to the world that they were no longer the subjects of a monarch but would instead be responsible for their own governance. This declaration came in an era when kings, queens and noble elites ruled over empires with little to check their power.


That is until a rag-tag band of rural farmers, merchants and businessmen from Boston, Philadelphia, Virginia and the other American colonies stood up to the world’s greatest military power at the time and won their independence from Great Britain.


When the signers of the Declaration of Independence bravely signed their names on that document on July 4, 1776, they knew full-well that they – almost all of them men of means – were risking their fortunes and more importantly their lives by standing up to the British crown. Yet they knew that their work was about something larger than their own lives. They knew that their decision was being watched by the rest of the world and that just as John Adams said, its outcome would be celebrated for centuries.


Indeed, the signers of that declaration blazed the trail for freedom-loving people around the world who were now emboldened to take control of their own governance. In France, revolutionaries overthrew their monarchy, and other nations soon realized that it was representative government – not bloodlines or crowns – that would govern free people in the future.


Of course, the struggle for liberty and independence was not over in 1776. It was only just beginning as the American Revolution would not formally conclude until 1783. The intervening years, and the years leading up to July 4, 1776, were marked by heroic sacrifices by colonial militias and the fledging Continental Army. After all, it was minutemen that rode with Paul Revere to alert Citizen Soldiers at Lexington and Concord that the British were on their way to seize a colonial weapons cache. These same Citizen Soldiers – the forefathers of today’s National Guard – then fired the “Shot heard ‘round the world.”


Militiamen were key to winning the long campaign against the British, and though the last major battle of the war concluded in 1781 with the British surrender at Yorktown and America won its independence, the Citizen Soldier and the U.S. military to this day continue to protect that liberty and independence that was secured at such a cost in the Revolution.


That struggle is not over today. Liberty, as it has been throughout history, is under threat around the world, and the Citizen Soldier continues to stand to protect it from tyrants.


Citizen Soldiers have answered the call in nearly every one of our nation’s conflicts and helped ensure that liberty and independence would be protected for the next generation. That is as true today as it was in 1775 when the first shot rang out at Lexington. And though we can once again celebrate our nation’s independence this July 4, we must never forget that it came at a cost and that it must be continually protected. Today’s National Guard will stand watch as the guardian of that hard-won freedom and remain ready to protect it, just as it has done since the earliest days of America.