Category Archives: Military

American flags for the neighborhood!

We have really been going through some crap in the United States lately. Shootings, burned churches, overt racism on the rise, the fight over the Confederate flag, whose picture should be on our paper money, the increased strain on our natural resources, etc etc etc.

But in this little neighborhood where I live something happened last week (July 3rd) that made me forget all that crap for a minute and actually feel patriotic and proud to be an American.  As a 20 year Navy veteran, it reminded me about why this is the only country where I want to live and how much I love the United States of America.

As I turned from my street onto the main drag that runs from the end of the neighborhood to the main road, this is what I saw:

Little USA flags lining both sides of the street

Little USA flags lining both sides of the street

A friend of mine took this pic.  Flags lining the street and military personnel in their PT gear running down the street surrounded by the flags:


Then she posted this picture a few hours later:


Notice something different??

Yup, the flags were gone…….after just a few hours… what happened?  Where and why did they disappear?? What happened to the American flags for the neighborhood!  ??

Do you see the little paper on each flag in the top picture?  That was attached to each flag, and it gave the name of the lady who bought them and donated them to our neighborhood, of her own unselfish accord.  However, unfortunately she also had her Realtor credentials on there, so the flags were deemed “solicitation”.  However, before they were deemed “solicitation” one woman complained and according to her was told that “they weren’t allowed to be there”,  (side note, they have been placed by this woman for years with no problems), so she took it upon herself to pull up the flags with her children.  ALL the flags………with her CHILDREN….. (oh and by the way she is a military spouse and was in the military herself)

One of my friends from the neighborhood started a private conversation on Facebook letting us know that this woman and her kids were taking down the flags.  I was out running errands when the FB messages started coming in.  When I read them I was so angry that I decided to do something about it!  So I called the HOA office and asked what was going on.  I was told they had “received a few calls about the flags being solicitation”.  I did ask why that particular lady and her kids were removing the flags and I was told she had decided to do that on her own.

So my next call was to the HOA President who agreed to let the flags go back in as long as the paper was removed from them.

My next call was to the woman who  purchased all the flags to ask her if she was okay with her name being taken off the flags so they could go back in the ground.  Of course as I expected she didn’t put the flags on the road for personal gain, but as a nice gesture to the neighborhood, so of course she said “YES!”  So with just a few phone calls, the situation had been fixed.

And just between you and me, I was all about making sure this happened just to show this woman who complained that she wasn’t going to win…..  so I was determined to make some phone calls and negotiate a way for the flags to go back!

In the meantime I posted on Facebook that the flags would go back up, and was looking for people who would come out and help replace them. (there had been an uproar on the private FB group for our neighborhood about the flags being removed).  A large group showed up to help the next morning at 8 am.

Neighbors replacing the flags.  :-)

Neighbors replacing the flags. :-)

The kind, selfless, woman who placed the flags to begin with (Christina Kreutter) is in the back on  the left wearing a white hat.  There are at least two military retirees and four active duty military members in that photo as well!   There are probably hundreds of military families in this neighborhood which is why Christina’s gesture was even more meaningful!

Now just to keep things balanced and try to tel the WHOLE story, the woman who pulled up the flags with her children claimed that there were some flags on the ground because they had been knocked down by the cars driving by.  She stated when she called the HOA office to ask what to do about that, (ummmmmm why she needed to call is beyond me…..just put them back in the ground duh), she said she was told “they shouldn’t be there”, and so she was “helping” by her and her kids taking them up……

I find that story hard to believe.  If you were concerned with the flags on the ground, then just put them back in a bit farther from the road.  If you were concerned about MORE of them being knocked down, then just move them ALL back a bit….don’t take them out of the ground….sheesh….doesn’t take rocket science to figure that one out…..

Anyway, this is how the neighborhood looked from Friday morning July 3 until Monday evening July  6:



flags in bg

If you are in the Hampton Roads area, and need an honest, caring, Realtor I know a few……and one is Christina Kreutter, ABR, SFR.

Thank you Christina for making our neighborhood beautiful and reminding us that the United States is a beautiful place to live.  You filled our hearts with patriotism and pride!  And thank you to my friends AND neighbors who rallied together to replace the flags and make our neighborhood beautiful!!!

What is Memorial Day really about?

So, I was surprised and a little saddened that a post I put on Facebook actually garnered almost 40 responses, and many of them were in opposition to my original post.  So before I tell you what my post said, and the opposition I received, I first want to let you all know that I am a military retiree. I spent 20 of my 49 years of life on this earth serving in the United States Navy as a Hospital Corpsman.  I feel that alone gives me insights into military rules, regulations, ceremonies, and  traditions that those who have not served in the military do not have in their toolbox.

Bahrain 2003

Bahrain 2003

For example, it is disrespectful to wear anything on your head in a military medical facility.  It is a sign of respect to the dead to remove your hat when entering, and during your visit to a military medical center.  Also, unfortunately as a Corpsman, I have had to assist my Commanding Officers with the Casualty Assistance Calls Officer program, and have had to personally tell at least 4 families their loved one had died while on active duty.  We were those people who showed up on your doorstep wearing a service dress uniform to be the first to tell you that your loved one was dead.  They didn’t know.  We were required to use the word “dead”.  I had to watch them register disbelief, then shock, then profound despair. It was our duty, and our honor to help the family with funeral arrangements for their service member and help them with benefits, headstones, etc.  It was a heart wrenching job, but one that I did with love and respect for my brothers and sisters and their families.

While serving at reserve centers in South Bend Indiana, and Fayetteville Arkansas I had to attend hundreds of funerals as the military honor guard, and fold flags and present them to loved ones with these sacred words:  “On behalf of the President of the United States, the United States Navy, and a grateful Nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s honorable and faithful service”  And had to maintain a straight face, no emotion while doing so.  It was my honor and privilege to do that for them!

However, that all being said, I feel that gives me a certain expertise about military traditions, and honors, especially when it is about days for honoring our service members past and present.  So, when I received some flak on my post I was surprised and a bit taken aback.

I don’t believe in saying “Happy Memorial Day”.  Memorial Day is not about being happy. I do not want people to thank me for my service on Memorial Day, I am still alive.  Memorial Day is a day to salute and honor the men and women who died while serving their country in the military.  My FB post said this: “Memorial Day is not a day to thank Veterans, it is a day to remember those who died and gave the ultimate sacrifice while serving. So please don’t thank me for my service, I am still alive. Thank those who died protecting ours, (and others’) freedoms.”

I received some comments about how it is okay to say “happy memorial day” because maybe people have happy memories of their loved ones.  I received comments about how every day is a good day to thank a veteran.  Comments about how we should realize that even serving in the military is a sacrifice and so Memorial day is about that too.

So, I hate to pull out the “I served for 20 years so I feel like I know more than you do about this subject” card, but that is how I feel.  You may have lost family members, and for that I am incredibly sad for you, but to be honest, (and maybe it is because I was a Corpsman and had to be so close to military death), I feel like that is NOT what Memorial Day is about.  Memorial Day is about the loss of Military lives.

Please use the ENTIRE other 364 days of the year to thank a Veteran for their service, (they deserve our thanks), but NOT Memorial Day.

For a Great history of Memorial Day, here is a link to section specifically about Memorial Day, AKA Decoration Day.

So, yesterday was an interesting day for me, as I waded through comments and tried to best to educate, and enlighten as much as possible about what the day truly means.  I did receive a few private messages from people thanking me for my words, and telling me that they agreed and I had taught them what Memorial Day is really about, so that was heartening.

Today, as I was preparing to write this blog, I came across this video done by a man named Chad Warner.  I think it visually expresses the point I am trying to get across.  This video is specifically geared towards Marines, but works for all branches of the Military. Thank you Chad.

My Memorial Day Tribute……UPDATE… To everyone who has shared this Memorial Video… I am Overwhelmed with Gratitude & Humbled… Thank You for honoring and remembering America’s fallen Heroes this weekend!!! Semper-Fi This is a tribute I created for Memorial Day Weekend…It’s a tribute to my fellow Marines Who Gave All in the pursuit of Freedom…There are actually 3 funerals in this tribute that I attended and I am dear friends with the Marine father who is saluting the casket of his Marine son….God Bless & Remember ALL Our Fallen Heroes This Memorial Day Weekend…

Posted by Chad Warner on Thursday, 2 June 2011



“Miss you to Pieces” deployment book and a GIVEAWAY! Happy Veterans Day!!

(From Carol: I have been involved with my neighborhood summer swim league for a few years and I have met some of the most amazing people who live right here in my neighborhood through the swim team.  One of them is Donna Purkey, who is an award winning author!!  She has a husband and two beautiful children L and R.  She wrote a book for children to help them deal with a parent on a military deployment.  It is a WONDERFUL book , and I encourage you all to purchase a copy for yourselves, or a military family you may know.  I am certain it will help with the anxiety of a parent being deployed!  For Veterans Day 2013 I want to honor Donna, her husband Keith and their children by letting you all share in Donna’s story. AND a GIVEAWAY!!!!)

Everyone has a story to tell, and everyone has a dream to follow. For me, telling my story was following my dream. I have always been a writer and I’ve always enjoyed writing. I am probably one of the few people in the world who still has a pen-pal (since 1988!) and we actually write letters to each other – you know, the “old-fashioned way”. But, that is a topic for a completely different blog post! It has been a life-long dream of mine to write and publish a book, and here’s my story!

I am a Navy wife and mother of two young children. I am also a teacher and a writer. I’d venture to say that I am following my dreams, but to be honest, I never dreamed of marrying a sailor and living the military lifestyle! It just happened…and I am so glad it did! Our children are our greatest gifts and it is because of them that I was inspired to write what has become an award-winning book!

Purkey family: R., Keith, Donna, and L.

Purkey family: R., Keith, Donna, and L.

A few years ago, my husband deployed (which he often does). My children were only two and three years old and I wasn’t really sure how the deployment was affecting them. We used a variety of activities to keep Dad a part of our lives and I had to believe they were making a difference. But, to be honest, I despised the never ending paper chain. It was a visual reminder of how much longer we had to wait. The length was depressing.And, we were counting backwards which was ridiculous because my kids couldn’t even count forward. We did, however, love our “Flat Daddy” – a life sized photo board of my husband (from the waist up).  He mostly hung out in the living room, and my kids often tried to feed him, kiss him, hug him, etc. He even joined us for Thanksgiving dinner at a friend’s house and it was a huge hit!

The following year, my husband deployed – again! This time, we had “Dad pillows” and we filled a jar with chocolate kisses so the kids could have “a kiss from Dad” each day. Well, that didn’t work. What kid is happy with ONE piece of chocolate? It was such a tease. And, my kids couldn’t understand why Dad would only give them ONE kiss each day? I quickly lost interest in this idea. It just wasn’t working for us. We needed something else. Something more meaningful. Something more creative.

That’s when I came up with the project that became the inspiration for my award-winning* book, “Miss You to Pieces – A Deployment Story and Project Idea for Kids.”

miss you to pieces

“Miss You to Pieces” is the story of a young boy, Riley, whose dad deploys for six months and the unique puzzle project that his mom (that’s me!) introduces to help Riley count the days until his dad’s return. Simply put, the puzzle project involves adding one piece of the puzzle each day (two pieces on some days!) and when the puzzle is complete, Dad will be home. There’s a little more to it though……

Throughout the story, Riley experiences the normal range of emotions that kids often feel during deployment. But, he grows, just as his puzzle grows, and he comes to realize his mom was right, “The days are like puzzle pieces – some are more exciting than others. But each piece is important because it helps the puzzle grow. And, each day is important because it helps you grow bigger, smarter and stronger!” The story reassures kids that their emotions (like Riley’s) are normal and temporary. And, the puzzle project offers a fun and meaningful way to count the days while providing a daily opportunity to talk and keep the family connected.

As I mentioned, the story is based on my family and our experiences with deployment, but it is undoubtedly a story that most military families can relate to. The puzzle project is something we have done (more than once) and it’s not only fun, it provides us a special time each night. While my kids are looking for the puzzle piece they need (they are numbered on the back by the way!), we talk about Dad, our feelings, our day, whatever!  We connect as a family and we strengthen our family bond. We build ourselves as we build our puzzles. And we stay connected just as our puzzle pieces stay connected. 

I mention that my story is geared towards military families but I’d like to add that ANY family that experiences temporary separation – or any family that is “counting the days” to a special event – can be touched by the story and inspired by the puzzle project. In addition, it’s an excellent teaching tool to illustrate the sacrifices of military families!

To conclude, I’ve told my story and in doing so, I’ve followed my dream of writing a book. But, to be honest, writing my book wasn’t really about me. My intention in writing the book was to share our project idea so that it would provide other families with a fun and meaningful project to not only count the days of a deployment, but to create an opportunity to connect with each other. I also wanted to show kids that their feelings are real and normal. Riley’s example is both comforting and encouraging to children who are experiencing the emotional roller coaster that is common during deployments. 

I truly hope that my readers will create their own puzzle projects and so I’ve included “Tips for creating your own puzzle project” at the end of the book. And, the tips are good, but you’ll have to read them for yourself!

donna at school

*”Miss You to Pieces” has recently been awarded Honorable Mention and a Five Star rating from Readers’ Favorite 2013 Annual Book Award Contest.

 Donna Purkey, mother, author, teacher, speaker, has been married to her husband since 2003. She lives in Suffolk, VA with her family and enjoys sharing her story with schools, Family Readiness Groups, MOPS, etc. Autographed copies are available through her directly. She may be contacted directly at

donna book award

GIVEAWAY CONTEST:  Donna is giving away one signed copy of her book to a lucky winner.  Here are the rules for the contest:

1) Like the “Miss you to Pieces ” Facebook page
2) Write a comment on this blog about why you like Donna’s idea for her book, or share your own deployment story, or one of a friend or family you know.
YOU MUST complete both steps to be entered once.
To be entered twice you need to share this blog post on your facebook page or Twitter.  Please include your FB page or Twitter name so we can confirm!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good Luck!!!