First Runner-Up

Miguel AlmaguerLast week my “Open Letter to Kari Bales” somehow became the news. I was very aware that Kari Bales was the queen and I was merely standing in as her first runner-up in her absence. But I was happy to do that, and honored to bring military spouses and their silent sacrifice into the momentary spotlight.

However, that honor and excitement turned to worry and dread when Miguel Almaguer and the NBC news crew came into my house for the interview. As the cameraman was making some adjustments I sat watching the crew erect foreign-looking paraphernalia in my kitchen. The lights flipped on and I was suddenly overcome by the enormous weight and responsibility of the words I was about to speak. It’s one thing to dump my soul into a computer processor; it’s another thing entirely to force the words to out of my brain into the lens of a camera, all while looking at a hunky reporter I’ve only watched in sixty-inch high-definition.

The big fuzzy microphone hanging over my head felt like the day I drove away from the hospital with my newborn daughter strapped into her huge car seat, looking like a cashew bundled in green fluff. I couldn’t believe they actually trusted me. I looked up and wondered if they might konk me on the head with the mic if I answered incorrectly.

“Okay, now I’m nervous,” I told Miguel. “Don’t be,” he said. “It’s just like having a conversation. You’ll be great.”

But it didn’t feel like just a conversation. It felt like I was speaking on behalf of military spouses everywhere: all ten million bajillion of them. I may have been First Runner-Up to Kari Bales, but I was suddenly Miss Military Spouse USA. The cameraman fiddled with various items in the background and it gave me a moment to breathe. Just breathe, I told myself. But it still felt more like an asthma attack than breathing.

As Miguel made one last call, my breathing finally slowed and I concentrated on the fact that the cold air rushing into my lungs was coming back out warmer than it had entered. This was evidence that I was still alive. Then, it hit me: this story wasn’t about me. In fact, it wasn’t even about my letter. It was about the national response to my letter. YOUR response to my letter.

Suddenly the weight to perform blew away as I exhaled, and I was amongst all of you. And I was proud of you. I’ve never felt such pride before, not even peering up into the night sky under fireworks on the Fourth of July.  Not even standing on the deck of an aircraft carrier cruising effortlessly under the Golden Gate Bridge. Not even watching sailors stop, one by one, to salute the flag before running down the gangplank to hug and squeeze their children, some of whom they were meeting for the very first time.

And then that pride, that warm air … it made me smile. YOU made me smile. At that moment the producer said, “Lori, look over here!” and she unwittingly captured that moment by snapping this photo:

NBC Nightly News interview

So this is my thank you card to all of you. Think of it as my acceptance speech for being Kari Bales’ first runner-up. Because many of you have said thank you to me in your comments of support for Kari, but I hope what you realize is that by reading, forwarding, tweeting, and writing, you are the ones that made a difference in the life of a military spouse. You are the ones who shaped a national conversation. You are the ones who voted Kari Bales most likely to succeed.

To view the final result of that NBC Nightly News interview about you, my readers, go here:

NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, “Silent Rank” by Miguel Almaguer ~ March 23, 2012

If you’ve been reading my blog for very long, you knew I would do something ridiculous. Well I’m not going to disappoint you by failing to self-report here as I always do. As Miguel laid his cell phone down on the table, I saw a picture of him under some spotlights looking somewhat like a ring-master taming a lion. Before I knew what was happening, I blurted out, “is that you – at the circus?”

Really? The circus? The circus, Lori? Uhhh. Hide your face. The CIRCUS!?

I smiled stupidly pretending not to notice how dumb I was. He chuckled, and I immediately recognized what appeared to be the White House in the background. The circus spotlights were actually floodlights on a big green lawn. The lion’s whip was a fat cord attached to a camera crew, trailing from his microphone. I cursed my lost glasses but kept smiling. He graciously answered, “No, but it’s a lot like a circus sometimes, I’ll give you that.”

Gah. Stupid, stupid, stupid. Circus. Jeesh.

This leads me to my conclusion, because no acceptance speech would be complete without a gratuitous thankyou to Carol Costello of CNN,  Miguel Almaguer of NBCJesse Ellison of Newsweek/The Daily Beast , and all of their editors and producers working behind the scenes for chosing to cover this issue and bring the positive and human side of this story into the forefront. On behalf of my readers – on behalf of military spouses – thank you so much.

And now we return to our regularly scheduled program …


12 Comments (+add yours?)

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  2. Vanessa
    Mar 27, 2012 @ 06:52:30

    Thank you so much for standing up for this wife. As you said, it could of been any of us. These wars have changed us forever. My husband has been deployed twice. The stress that they face, none of us know or understand. I can’t even being to imagine how I would handle life over there. I am so proud to be a military spouse and to see all of the support that we offer to eachother. There are no words to describe it…..just AMAZING!


  3. Richard Benishai
    Mar 26, 2012 @ 16:04:44

    I read the headlines like everyone else, when first published. However today, I read the article about Robert Bates’ wife being convinced that he did not do it. That stuck a cord: a couple years ago, a man here in Israel, killed both of his little girls, a terrible crime.
    At that time, I checked him out and saw that he had black energy and entities riding on him. A couple of weeks later, he committed suicide.

    Tonight, I checked the soldier and Robert had a low physical energy level: 16,000 Bovis (the standard is 24-25,000); his astral aura was at 24,000 Bovis (it should be double the 16,000 level); his mental aura was at 29,000 (again it should be 64,000).

    The black energy level on Robert was at 70% and the number of entities was 7.
    With such a load, a person may commit acts not in his character.


  4. Cindy
    Mar 26, 2012 @ 15:24:01

    I thank you as well for standing behind Kari Bales!! I wish I could reach out to her & say that not every person, military as we are or civilian is against her husband & that I wish I could do more to support her & her family! Thank you for allowing NBC news hear from a lot of silent but determined military wives!!


  5. Marsha
    Mar 26, 2012 @ 14:20:05

    Yes, this was great work on your part and entertaining too. And ohmygoodness, I got goosebumps just thinking of being on the…”deck of an aircraft carrier cruising effortlessly under the Golden Gate Bridge.” How beautiful.


  6. Dorothy Wagner
    Mar 26, 2012 @ 12:21:12

    Lori, You are amazing and I, as a military wife, am so grateful for your courage to write what we feel. Thank you for not condemning a situation that we truly know nothing about, rather you lifted up this wife, mother, and very sad woman. Kari Bales is blessed to have an advocate like you!

    Thank you and God Bless you!! Dorothy


  7. Shira
    Mar 26, 2012 @ 11:51:03

    I’ve got so much I want to say, but I’ll condense it to THANK YOU and I’M PROUD OF YOU for being our voice, our virtual arms around our sister, Karilyn.


  8. reich1970
    Mar 26, 2012 @ 07:16:39

    Thank you for giving us the words to repost, tweet and share. It’s like they say, “you can’t make a movie without a script.”


  9. Tonja Macy
    Mar 26, 2012 @ 06:57:32

    I do not have a spouse in the military, but my son is in the National Guard. I do not think badly of Kari, nor do I believe that her husband is guilty. Not enough information has been givin and who’s to say some has not been “hidden” or “tampered with”. I try not to be negitive but it’s hard. How do we know he’s not being framed? I wish them both the best and have them in my prayers. I cannot even imagine what they are going thru. God bless them and you!


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