Catherine Strong of Raeford, NC

Picture of winner's bracelet

I grew up in Florida and my story begins when a boy in ceramic’s class wrote me a note, which asked if I would go on a date with him before summer break. After a few dates to the local ice-cream place on the beach (charms #8141), I knew I was going to be with him for the rest of my life (Not only did he have the LOVE of ice-cream like I did, he was cute too!) I fell in love that summer and we both knew it was forever.

As high school graduation approached, the fears of being separated were amongst us. We knew with him joining the Military that there was a chance that we wouldn’t be together. So we did what any rational 18 year olds do. We got married (charms #0830)! June 5th, 1999 I married my best friend and we were stationed immediately in Hawaii (charms #7777).

Having only about $300 to our names we bought scuba gear and spent all of our free time diving the Hawaiian shores (charms #0764). Then everything changed. The peaceful Army we once knew was now immersed in a war. On that day I learned what it really meant to be a Military wife (charms #2388). The days of sitting on the beach and only caring about having enough money for some loco plate soon ended.

We were then stationed in Washington State (charms #4080). We welcomed our first baby girl, Becca. I decided then to go back to school. I spent many days and several long hours trying to prove that even though I was married young, juggling work, deployments, and a small child, I could still complete my education.

As soon as we got settled in Washington, my husband received orders for us to pack our bags and move cross-country to North Carolina (charms #8309). It didn’t matter where we were living, as long as we were all together. (Home is where the Army sends you).

A few years later, I finally graduated with honors (charms #2033)! Finishing my Bachelor’s degree was such an achievement for me. What a moment to walk across the stage and see my daughter give me thumbs up! Then after finishing school our family grew once more, we welcomed our second child (charms #6522), Betsy.

My husband and I have been through some challenging situations. We still laugh about how we began and how silly we were. We are a team and we love each other very much. Deployments have put many things in perspective and we work very hard to maintain a simple but fulfilling life with our girls. We have many more charms to add as our journey continues but to think it all started with just a little note… (charms #8347)!

 

 

 

Catherine Strong

Raeford, NC

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