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That heart, I salute. Today and every day.

A uniform, crumpled and stained, waits on the floor. Sweat, gun oil, and an international meat market wind through the air, infiltrating the circle of arms trying to force their presence away from hands, hair, and noses.

“Do you know how much I will miss you?” Words echo. Fall. And lock themselves away inside the hearts of two people who will never solely belong to each other. Two people who know all too well what service means. Two people who have chosen to put their hearts, their love, their need for each other behind them.

A last night falls quiet. Silent. They sleep intertwined. Never soundly. Never fully. And already parted.

As they walk through the airport, eyes on them, watching the pain that sits outside their chest, they know how they whisper their soft goodbyes to each other will set the tone. With the public. And with their resolve.

“Please, come home to me.”

“Please wait for me.”

Is there more to say? Ever?

That uniform walks away, ripping and shredding a heart on display.

That heart remains raw and pumping for all to see. For all to judge. For all to attempt to erase.

But it isn’t possible. That heart, living with only half a beat, continues. Because it can’t let go. And refuses to exist without the other piece. The other part of its livelihood.

It moves around us, through us, and envelops us daily.

While many move through their unknowing lives. While others compare business trips to deployments. While those who have never tasted the lips of sand and sweat try to massage that heart. To somehow hide from the raw meatiness of all it represents. Because a half-dripping heart shouldn’t beat. It isn’t what we have come to expect in love. But it thumps. And leaves others with mouths agape as we witness all it still lives for.

All it stands for.

And it does stand.

While others fall. While others take a broken piece and regenerate itself, this heart, the one that loves another heart shielded by a uniform, this heart remains open. Wounded. Ripped.

And the one holding it close, the one begging it to keep beating until that airplane, ship, bus returns, the one walking, moving beyond reason and with amazing resolve. That heart, the one many will never see on a busy street, the one that is soaked in tears, is the heart that pulses and moves our nation.

That heart, the one that loves without boundaries, fear, or any medal of bravery pinned above its existence.

That heart, I salute. Today and every day.

*A very special THANK YOU to Melissa, the woman behind Her War, Her Voice.  Please be sure to check out Her War, Her Voice on Facebook, her blog, and Twitter!

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