Subject: [DIVOFFICERS] Happy Memorial Day!
Reply-To: "McDaniel, Susan (Psychiatry)" <SusanH2_McDaniel@URMC.ROCHESTER.EDU>
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Dear Division Leaders:
Yesterday I sat at the airport waiting for our daughter to arrive. Three little girls, ages 5 to 15, sat very near me. I say "sat," but actually they were up and down like jumping beans. Finally their young mother looked at me and said, "military kids—they haven't seen their Dad in a year." Wow—a year. That's a very long time. I said: "They must be so excited." She said: "It's his 5th deployment. We started this when I was pregnant with the oldest. One was born in Hawaii, one in Texas, and one in Missouri. We've been through this before." It was clear no matter how many times they'd been through it, it was difficult. We were together for perhaps 20 minutes. During that time, the mother cried twice, and the two youngest more than that. The mother spent some time explaining to the youngest how people could cry when they were happy as well as sad, and that hers were tears of happiness. I'm not sure it fully sank in, as the little girl then interviewed me about who I was waiting for. I told her I was waiting for my daughter, now a big girl at 27. The mother asked where she lived, and I told her "Manhattan." The little girl looked me with big eyes and said: "She doesn't live with you? That's SO sad!" We had other exchanges, mostly about me telling the girls how important the work their dad did on behalf of all of us and asking them to thank him for me. I told the mother I knew that it also meant many sacrifices for her and her daughters, and I hoped she had a lot of support. She said: "thank you," rather than the answer I was hoping for, which was more like "I do." It was a poignant exchange appropriate for Memorial Day, and made me think of when my own father was in the Navy, and the sacrifices my mother made until I was 4. I know it wasn't easy, and that was clear from watching this beautiful young family.
So let us commemorate Memorial Day for all that have given their lives for what we enjoy today, and in support of all our active duty and veteran psychologists and to all our members with military partners, parents, siblings, and close friends. We are deeply grateful to all of you for protecting the many important rights associated with being an American. Before we had a Memorial Day to celebrate those who gave their lives for our freedoms, Abraham Lincoln spoke of the challenges of preserving our democracy "of the people, by the people, for the people." We are still working to live up to this vision—of a country full of sometimes passionate disagreements yet one that is inseparable, and dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal. Lincoln completed his 1st inaugural address in 1861 referring to the service of our military: "The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature." Here's to Psychology supporting "the better angels of our nature," with gratitude to all the military psychologists who serve us so well.
Susan H McDaniel PhD
Dr Laurie Sands Distinguished Professor of Families & Health
Director, Institute for the Family, Department of Psychiatry
Associate Chair, Department of Family Medicine
Director, Physician Faculty Communication Coaching Program
University of Rochester Medical Center
2016 President, American Psychological Association
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