WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Often times, we focus on the men and women fighting in the forefront and forget about their loved ones holding down the home front. For 70 years, the USO has encouraged and supported US troops and their families. Saturday, to mark its 70th anniversary and to celebrate military families, the USO held a vow renewal ceremony on the Battleship North Carolina.
Through rain or shine, these couples took a vow to love and cherish each other once before and now again to prove their commitment. But these men and women may know a little more about hardship than the rest of us. Their love has been tested by war and distance.
“I’d say ‘I love you, dear. Over.’ And she’d be in the States, and she’d say, ‘I love you, too, dear. Over,’” recalled Tom Conaty.
Conaty married his wife Dianna in 1962 in the Quantico Marine Corps chapel then left his new bride to serve in Vietnam. The Conatys were one of dozens of couples to renew their vows on the USS North Carolina Saturday.
To celebrate the vital role family support plays in the lives of service men and women and to celebrate its 70th anniversary, the USO put on the vow renewal ceremony, complete with flowers, pictures, cake, bubbly and of course, kisses.
“Rough times, good times and in between, so it’s time to renew and start anew,” said Mindy Songer, whose husband Aaron served in the Army for four years.
Dick and Judy Erickson took the opportunity to start anew in their 50th year of marriage. They were married on Navy Day, October 27 of 1962, before they had technology to keep them connected.
“Lots of letters, and actually one time, he called me from sea, on a radio, which was surprising because there were no cell phones then,” recalled Judy Erickson.
Cell phones are something Jason and Heather Ward are certainly thankful for these days.
“Telephones and computers are a great thing,” said Jason Ward. “That’s pretty much how we kept in touch.”
But both couples know it takes more than technology to make love last.
“Stay together, and just look at the bright side,” said the Ericksons. “Try not to think about the bad things. Work at it. It’s a work in progress every day. But it gets better every year.”
All the couples say they are so thankful for the USO, the recognition of their service and the opportunity to renew their vows in such a special place.