There are certain smells that I automatically think of as "Army smells." Boot polish reminds me of early mornings when my dad would let myself and brother "help" polish his boots. We probably made more work for him, but time we got to spend with Dad was so much fun! Barbersol shaving cream and starch reminds me of Army hugs and kisses, usually goodbye kisses as we left for school or Dad left for work. A freshly pressed uniform makes a particular sound when giving hugs. Engine oil mixed with dust (and probably sweat) was what Dad's bags smelled like after he returned from time in the field or deployed. But those were good smells because it meant Dad was home.
Army smells were just a part of my life when I grew up. Moving where the Army sent us was a part of life. Making new frriends quickly because we may not stay long was a part of life. Hearing cadence calls from passing troops doing PT in the early hours of the morning was a part of life. Stopping the car and paying respects at 5pm when the post's flag was coming down was a part of life. Acronyms like PCS and TDY were a part of life. Dad being gone for weeks, months, or even a year at a time was a part of life.
The words "Thank You" can not express enough how deeply I feel gratitude for those who serve and have served in the military. But I feel a special "Thank You" is in order for the families of service members. I was a fortunate child, resilient, loved, encouraged. I could not have asked for better parents or a better upbringing. I can't imagine the difficulties that both of my parents experienced, but appreciate their sacrifices more than I can say. That is where my remembrance rests today, on the servicemembers and their families. Where would our nation be without them?
And may I say, I now polish my own boots every morning (albeit park ranger boots) and the polish ALWAYS reminds me of my dad and those mornings spent with him.