by Kate Marsh Lord
Does it feel like everything and everyone is suddenly political? That our once politics-free bubble of the military has been pierced so strongly that is it now wide open and laid bare for everyone to see? Heck, even the names of some military bases are at the center of a politically-charged conversation.
Would you believe me if I told you this isn’t a bad thing? That, in fact, it’s actually quite good for our community, the military and our country.
The concerns and doubts can be deafening – Am I allowed to do this? Did I say the right thing? – but many folks have reached a tipping point, and their fear of the status quo outweighs their reluctance to get involved.
During the last couple months, the Black Lives Matter protests have added up to the largest movement in United States history. From big cities to small towns to, yes, even military bases around the world, people have gathered to demand racial justice and equality. For many, the Black Lives Matter movement has been their first step into activism.
Taking that first step, making that first call, or going to that first protest can feel like a very big leap, especially when you’re walking solo. Activism – whether joining thousands for a march or calling your Senator’s office alone from home – is sometimes intimidating and overwhelming.
I have spent more time than I could possibly count worrying about my place in political conversations. As my spouse’s career progressed in the Air Force, and we moved around the world, I struggled to find my footing and my voice. From one overseas assignment to the next, I watched from afar as the country I love broadcasted injustice after injustice around the world.
I couldn’t explain to my German neighbors how we failed to protect 20 first graders from slaughter in their classroom in Newtown, Connecticut. The summer of 2014, following the death of Michael Brown, I lived in Japan and struggled to find my place in the Black Lives Matter conversation. In both instances – as well as many between and since – I felt isolated, as if my single voice didn’t matter. I was literally on an island screaming into the void.
That’s why after years of feeling alone in my activism, I am so grateful to be involved with the Secure Families Initiative. SFI is a nonpartisan group of military partners who believe our voices are valuable in national security and other important American policy conversations. We acknowledge the unique value of our perspective and, perhaps more importantly, provide a community of spouses encouraging civic participation, whether you are marching in DC or posting on social media from a base in Japan.
There is strength in numbers and comfort in community. Those of us who feel moved to march, speak out and “be political” must continue to do so – loudly. Our participation provides a roadmap for others to follow. We can set the example that it is okay – and important – for military spouses to lead these conversations.
As a member of the military community, we value service to our nation. Right now, I believe, our most important service is to demand our nation live up to its greatest ideals: liberty and justice for all.
Kate Marsh Lord is a mom of three and proud Air Force spouse who has her elected officials on speed dial. She knows activism can be intimidating but is committed to empowering military spouses to use our voices for positive change. Kate is the Content Manager at Secure Families Initiative, a program to mobilize military spouse voters and advocates.