The other night our country witnessed an act of strength and grace, representative of all that makes this country great. In front of a divided house, in the face of political resentment and animosity, one person stood tall. One person sliced right through the blanket of malcontent to unite this country, if only for approximately two minutes and eleven seconds.
Carryn Owens, widow of Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens, is only weeks into the heart wrenching, terrifying world of grief.
The pain is still fresh, raw, and even debilitating at this point.
The effort to simply dress oneself so soon after this loss can be too much for many of us who have traveled grief’s path, yet Ms. Carryn Owens summoned the strength to stand before the whole nation. She showed the grace to allow us all into her heart as she struggled to maintain composure in the emotionally charged moment.
She didn’t need to speak to reach us. As President Trump shared her husband’s story and thanked her for being there, Ms. Owens’ tears spoke for her. As one round of applause after another rocked the room and as millions of Americans watched from home, Chief Petty Officer Ryan Owens reached back into this world to make his presence known.
I hope Ms. Carryn Owens knows she is not alone in this path.
I hope she knows she has a new family – one that will stand by her and help her and her children through this darkness. I hope she is encouraged by the resounding response she received last night and that continues today, rather than discouraged by those who chose to stand by their politics rather than her stand by her side.
As a military widow, I remember those early days with a mish-mosh of clarity and confusion. I remember the military honors and the media frenzy- albeit to less of a degree than appears here. I remember looking at my four beautiful little boys, and being positive that I could never find the strength to raise them without my husband. And I remember all the people who stood by us to help me maintain my love for this country in spite of my husband’s sacrifice for it.
I hope Ms. Carryn Owens knows that when she is ready, we will be here for her.
I know this community of military families who forever carry the burden of sacrifice will wrap its arms around her, her children, and the rest of her family the same way they did for mine. From Vietnam veterans whose own strength and grace guides them to care for our families in a way they never knew, to other widow(er)s and children who live each day missing their fallen soldier, to people who dedicate their time and energy into organizations that walk with us through funerals and birthdays, and college applications and memorial ceremonies- she and her family are not alone.
And I hope this country, no matter how divided on political fronts, manages to differentiate between politics and valor.