An Open Letter to our Fort Benning Home
When we first heard about you, it was through YouTube and another young military couple who had just started their Army journey. We sat dreaming about the time when we would be able to leave West Point behind us and start our lives as newlyweds at Fort Benning and hoped that we would get to call one of you, the White Elephants, home. There was something so charming about your details, the built in book shelves, the original hardwood floors, the large windows that let the Georgia sun pour in.
I remember the day we got the call that you were ours. We had just finished laying my late grandfather to rest and I was still rattled by the eerie echo of TAPS being played as I answered the phone. 307B would be waiting for us when we got to Fort Benning the following week. To this day, I’m still thankful for that reminder that we have so much life to live and that even in our darkest hours, there is always a bright light to focus on.
When I walked through your halls for the first time, before we had even signed for the key to the front door (which we had a heck of a time getting into for the next year), I felt like I was coming home for the first time in my entire life. I can’t explain the way the feelings washed over me, a feeling I hadn’t experienced in many years as I bounced from house to house and apartment to apartment. It was that promise of a new beginning, a new chapter in our story. The white walls reminding me that the next year of our life was a blank page still yet to be written.
It might be a little silly to put so much thought into a house that wasn’t even technically ours. A house that still had a shared common area and entrance in the back. But this was the moment we had been waiting for. A place to make our own. We didn't know it at the time but you would also be the place where we started our family. When we would leave, as we would find out just a few months after moving in, we would be leaving as a family of three.
I can’t help but wonder, as we lock up your doors and drive away, how many similar stories have unfolded in your lifetime. Since you were built in the 1930s, hundreds and maybe even thousands of soldiers and their families have lived in your rooms. You’ve evolved over those years to accommodate modern amenities and I know that by the time we have the chance to drive by you again, you’ll probably have changed again. Ever growing and evolving, just like our family will.
A few years from now we’ll be able to drive by your front door again and tell our son how you were our first home, the house we filled with laughter and tears as we fell into life as newlyweds, the house we brought him home to. So we’ll say “see you later” for now because you never say “goodbye” in Army life.