We met Emily and Monica Swinney after a performance of Wait Until Dark and we were struck by their story as a military family. They had planned as a family to attend Christmas in the Airwaves at Lyric Arts in December 2015 but were left with one empty seat when Adam was unexpectedly called away to serve. This year, they had hoped he would be home to see Christmas Story, but unfortunately, he is currently serving in Iraq. Emily and Monica will be seeing the show closing weekend.
So, we wanted to take a moment to tell their story in recognition of all that military families do in service of our country. We sat down with Emily and Monica in November (Military Appreciation Month) to have them share their story.
Emily Swinney says from the moment she met Adam, she knew he was going to be her best friend. The two met when Adam’s father became the pastor of the church Emily went to growing up. He was 16, and she was a couple years older. The two started dating within a couple months, and Adam mentioned wanting to join the military.
“I just brushed it off,” Emily said, “I didn’t think he was serious.”
Emily and Adam got married in August of 2003. He was 18, and she was 20. About a month after the wedding, Emily was pregnant with the couple’s daughter, Monica.
“He brought it up that fall, wanting to join. He definitely wanted to do better for our family, to provide more financial stability. One of the reasons he joined was because he wanted to go to college and have that taken care of by the military,” Emily said.
Adam officially joined the army in 2004. He has since served in Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan. The Swinney family was also stationed in Fort Carson, Colorado, and lived in Savannah, Georgia for four years before moving to Anoka.
“It can pull you apart, or bring you together. And we’ve definitely chosen to have it bring us together when he is apart,” Emily said.
When Adam was in boot camp, he and Emily wrote letters to each other every day, and Emily still has the letters. She says communication is essential to keeping their relationship strong, and they continue to communicate as much as possible, through phone calls, text messages, and snail mail. Letter writing is also an essential form of communication between Adam and Monica.
“I keep all the letters in a binder,” Monica said, “and I copy each letter before I send it. Hopefully when he gets home, we can read them all again.”
Monica has never known anything outside of military life. She says it’s can be stressful, but she thinks it has also made her stronger. She thinks that her lifestyle has helped her deal with tougher events. She misses her dad a lot, but really appreciates the times when he is home.
“He’s silly, but he can be stern, and joyful,” Monica said, “he’s really happy most of the time and he likes to joke around a lot.”
Being a military family does have its challenges. Both Emily and Monica agree that separation is a very difficult part of being a military family, and it makes them cherish the times when they are together. The Swinneys enjoy reading together, and are currently reading the Harry Potter books. They also like to go swimming and take road trips. Monica says that she and her dad like to play Minecraft together as well.
Both Monica and Emily say that it is important to remember that military families are strong and sacrifice a lot.
“You have to be willing to have each goodbye be the last goodbye,” Emily said.
With great sacrifice comes great rewards. The Swinneys say that they are both proud of Adam and the life that he leads.
“I’m so proud of my husband as a military wife. It’s a tangible way to give back to our country, and to serve our country. My daughter and I do that as well at home very much as he is doing it overseas. I’m so proud of how willing he is to go. He doesn’t complain. He is willing and ready. Whatever they ask of him, he is ready to do that. And I so admire that, and it’s neat to be a part of a small community of people that really, truly, put their life on the line every day for the rest of us.”
Lyric Arts thanks the Swinney family for sharing their story with us as we recognize and honor what they do for all of us.
Lyric Arts does offer a discount to military families. Please be sure to tell the box office when booking tickets that you are a military family.