Say thanks to soldiers at Boots on Broadway

Before moving to Columbus, my understanding of military appreciation was limited to the camouflage-print lingerie in my closet.

Even that wasn’t genuine. Shades of pink don’t conceal you in the trenches.

Anyway, everything changed when I came here.

I couldn’t attend a local event without somebody asking me if I was eligible for a military discount.

Almost daily, people wondered if I lived alone because my significant other was deployed.

The answer, of course, was “no.”

But in a town driven by Fort Benning’s impact, the inquiries weren’t unreasonable.

Saturday, first-time military heritage celebration Boots on Broadway comes to downtown Columbus.

The free event — designed as a “thank you” to soldiers — includes games and entertainment, as well as giveaways for military.

Immersion in a military town has taught me a variety of lessons.

On the party scene, the skewed gender ratio was initially a shock.

I eventually adapted to the sea of crew cuts. After all, the scene wasn’t too different from the harem of men I already dreamed about on a nightly basis.

I already associated soldiers’ uniforms with courage.

Yet I didn’t know physical bravery was only one facet of their sacrifice.

That awareness came as I befriended a growing circle of military spouses.

For the first time, I grasped the luxury of hearing your significant other say, “Honey, I’ll be home at 5.”

During deployments, many families operate around the alternative: “Honey, I’ll probably be home at some point in the next six months.”

And yes, technology now offers us a countless variety of ways to stay in touch — even while overseas.

However, as I watched friends wait for news from Iraq and Afghanistan, I realized technology’s depth sometimes only makes lapses in communication seem more severe.

I learned that while the image of a couple’s first affectionate embrace makes a good front-page photo, it doesn’t necessarily reflect the complexity of returning home from a deployment.

A soldier’s uniform represents a willingness to dive into uncertainty on the battlefield.

It can also mark the chance a similar uncertainty will surround a once comfortable life on the home front.

Come to Saturday’s Boots on Broadway festivities and say thanks. Because military boots are made for walking.

They’re also made for exercising. Saying goodbye. Making an “I love you” phone call.

Returning home.

Most importantly, military boots draw our attention to a lifestyle that is anything but one size fits all.

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