Madison Williams stands with her husband, Marine Pfc. Christopher Williams. The private's wife says her perspective on the Fourth of July has changed since becoming a military spouse. (Submitted photo)
ALBANY — Independence Day means many things to a lot of people — fireworks, cookouts and family gatherings. From the perspective of a military spouse, it can mean something different.
Madison Williams, of Leesburg, is a newly minted Marine wife, having married Pfc. Christopher Williams in February after being best friends with him for four years. He went through boot camp last year and is currently stationed at Naval Air Station Pensacola, where he is undergoing Military Occupational Specialty training.
Consequently, they have been separated more than they have been together since becoming a married couple.
“We got married on his 10-day leave,” she said.
As a young child, Williams used to love Fourth of July festivities. She would go home and dream of fireworks, and appreciated the opportunity to go out and get a tan. Lately, her eyes have been opened as to the true meaning of Independence Day.
“Now, it is more about his absence and what that means,” she said. “He is sacrificing his time. I’m going to see him (on the holiday weekend). He is not allowed to come home; that’s his job.”
Among the things her husband has had to sacrifice, aside from his time, is big family moments.
“My baby sister just turned 1,” Williams said. “Before he left he was always with me, and he grew fond of her. It crushed him when he missed her first birthday.
“It’s the simple things you don’t realize are important until you don’t have them.”
The Fourth of July, for Williams, now goes beyond applying sunscreen, enjoying watermelon and having a good time. It means that her spouse will be honored for the sacrifices he has made, and it’s an opportunity to thank other service members for what they do and the sacrifices they make.
Recently, she expressed her feelings about the day in a paper she wrote for one of her classes at Darton State College.
“The Pledge of Allegiance, the National Anthem, and the American flag have never had a greater meaning in my life than they do right now,” she wrote.
She also hopes that today is a day when people sit down and reflect on what freedoms they have been afforded Americans.
“I would want people to sit down and think about why they get to go to the job they want to go to, put on the clothes they want to wear and why they are able to get in the car and go to the grocery store,” Williams said.
On average, the couple has been able to see each other roughly once a month — which has forced her to learn patience.
“Don’t take the simple things for granted … simple things like talking to your husband, or going home and being able to eat dinner, anything you can do on a daily basis,” the Marine wife said.
The last two paragraphs of her paper sums it up:
“So I guess you could say the Fourth brings more than fireworks, sunscreen, or watermelon, it brings freedom, sacrifice, honor, loyalty, and love. The Fourth to me will be celebrated just like it was my own anniversary because it is. It is more important to me than any other holiday because it is the day my husband gets honored for the things he does for this country. It is the day that all of the men and women get recognized for missing holiday with their families, men missing the births of their children, missing funerals, or first birthdays, and most importantly it’s the day they are honored for giving their lives so that you and I can have all of those things. They give this country freedom with their own lives.
“I ask you for this Fourth think of it as freedom, if you don’t already, and not just a good time. Go out and shake a Marine’s hand, an airmen’s hand, a soldier’s hand, or a seamen’s hand and thank them for what they do for you and this country. That is what the Fourth of July means to a Marine wife, it’s Independence.”