Guest Post by Jonathan Volodymyr - Here is a special post from my husband today. Show your support for the military by voting for the extraordinary couple. Please read and vote today!
Military Friend’s Chance for a Dream Wedding
Just a few days ago we were celebrating our nation’s Independence Day. In the United States we are extremely blessed. People all over the world desire the freedom we have in our country. People are still fighting for freedom throughout the world including my native birth land of Ukraine. Perhaps we can reflect on the freedoms that we have as a nation and the opportunities that others long for all over the globe. But, these blessings of freedom come at a cost. Most are familiar with the ultimate price and the void it leaves to loved ones; there are also less known sacrifices. The example I will write about today is about one service member who postponed the opportunity of love in a relationship because of his love and duty to our country. You can see more about his story in a Wisconsin news story here. Help Northwoods soldier win dream wedding
I had the great privilege as have many others of serving with him. We served together during the period of the “Surge” in Iraq for a C Co 1-121 FA (SECFOR) from Wisconsin. Our mission in 2006 and 2007 was proving security for logistical convoys throughout Iraq. Within the first 3 months of our tour of duty our unit was already nearing 1,000,000 miles of convoy operations. Here’s a Stars and Stripes article about our unit. Camp Navistar soldiers log nearly 1 million miles I will write about this more later to remember those I’ve served with and celebrate the memories we had as a brotherhood. Truly a fine group of soldiers and I am proud to have served with them. I am thankful to God for them. It is impossible to summarize it all in one article, but I’ll write more about this later.
Below is the submission that Captain Matthew Mangerson of the Wisconsin Army National Guard made in a $20,000 Military Wedding Contest in Milwaukee. They are finalists! This soldier is truly an exemplary leader. He has earned praise not only from those he serves with but also nationally. This article from the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs after his last deployment to Afghanistan attests to this. He will be the first to tell you though, it is because of those he serves with and diverts the focus back to those he leads. Wisconsin Soldier recognized nationally for leadership following historic mission
In my personal experience, I have witnessed how the men I served with rally around positive things surrounding those we served with. This is a way to connect and celebrate in positive new memories. The story of Cpt. Matthew Mangerson and his fiancée are in a wedding contest in Milwaukee is such an example. You can help them by voting here. #VoteMattandMichelle Voting ends at 4:00 PM central time. A victory for them would also be a cause to celebrate for others that have had the privilege of serving with Cpt. Mangerson.
Here are the words of Cpt. Matthew Mangerson from the contest submission:
“What Matt has learned about Fruit, Flowers and Fiancées: I have always been told that fruit takes time to ripen and that flowers are most beautiful after they’ve fully bloomed, but I have learned that you can’t fully appreciate these truths until you’ve lived through them. In September of 2001, I met the love of my life. Sadly, it took me 11 more years to actually realize it.
Michelle and I first met during her freshman year at Ripon College in our Spanish 201 class. After a semester of anonymous classroom cohabitation, we were partnered together for a theatrical group project. Michelle was (and continues to be) my intellectual superior in most things academic; so I’m sure our first friendly interaction was more a product of patience than affection. She had to do most of the initial translation work for the project and also took on the majority of the speaking, ensuring that I did and said as little as necessary, for the good of all.
Looking back on it, I like to think that it wasn’t my lackluster initial impression that kept us from being little more than casual acquaintances for the rest of our college experience. Thankfully, we live in an age of digital, social networking with amazing technology and connectivity. Immediately upon graduating from Ripon, I entered the Wisconsin National Guard and Michelle went on to graduate school at Eastern Illinois for a Master in Historical Administration. Within four months of becoming a qualified Field Artillery officer, I was sent on my first deployment to Iraq for 15 months.
Over the course of the next six years, I was deployed twice to Iraq while Michelle pursued her career goals by traveling around the Midwest. With the help of Facebook she and I stayed in contact over the years. Occasional updates and casual chitchat late at night was just enough to keep our fruit on the branch along with a few flower buds. Michelle likes to joke that she always knew when I was single since those were usually the time my messages would pop up on her screen. Luckily, fate saw fit to have us both living in southern Wisconsin in early 2012.
Fate can be wonderful, but she can also be fickle. Shortly after we began to see each other and reconnect – as if on cue – I was notified that I would be deploying overseas yet again. I would be leading my own unit of missile launchers for a nine month mission in Afghanistan. It was a great honor, but also bittersweet. Just as we were relearning what a great team we could be, Michelle and I would be split apart. I have to admit that I was a little apprehensive about pursuing a relationship with another overseas deployment looming in the future. To make matters more difficult, Michelle was also relocating and starting a new and exciting job in Chicago at The Field Museum.
But once again, Michelle proved how much smarter she could be than me. Her feelings for me and faith in us never wavered. She stood by my side and supported me through the challenges of my deployment every day for 11 long months. I cannot lie – it was hard to be apart. However, that time provided all of the ripening and blooming in our relationship that I could ever hope for. In October of 2013, I returned home to a truly amazing woman and two months later, I knew she was the woman I was destined to marry. We both had to scrape together the last of our patience, but finally on April 4, 2014 I got down on my knee, pulled out a ring almost as perfect as her, and asked Michelle to spend the rest of her life with me. It has been a long journey.
There have been emotional challenges and unforeseen obstacles along the way. However, the fruit has ripened, the flower has bloomed and I now have the sweetest, most beautiful fiancée a man could dream of. The only thing that could make our story more perfect is if I could give her a wedding that is as much a dream to her, as she is to me!”
- Matthew Matthew & Michelle Wisconsin National Guard Milwaukee, Wisconsin