ARLINGTON, Va. — Call the florist, make some dinner reservations, pen a love letter — Friday is Military Spouse Day.

It may not have quite the exposure of Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day, but in wartime, Military Spouse Day has a very special meaning, according to the Army’s Chief of Staff, Gen. Eric Shinseki.

“The dedication and support of our Army spouses is never more important than during the times of war,” Shinseki said in a prepared statement issued earlier this week to honor spouses.

“The American soldier has never soldiered alone — Army spouses have always been making their own, unique contributions to the well-being of the force, through 10 wars and all the periods of restless peace in between.”

Shinseki noted that for military families, the days following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks “have been marked by incredible emotion — the toughest days when our soldiers were lost, and the jubilant highs of battlefield victories.”

From Afghanistan to Iraq, not to mention Bosnia, Kosovo and even homeland defense deployments, military families have undergone more pressure in the past 18 months than perhaps any time since Vietnam.

Through it all, Shinseki said, “the Army family remains strong and vibrant. For that, we owe a tremendous amount to our Army spouses who rely on their own remarkable personal courage, indomitable strength, and great resolve to sustain our families.”

Shinseki was specifically pinpointing soldiers, but his comments easily apply to all military spouses.

“Over long months of separation … [spouses] have served as both mother and father to their children and as leaders who bind their communities together. Again and again … spouses have displayed in their abiding love and constant support their own magnificent moments. We are proud beyond measure of all of them.”

Shinseki called military spouses “the most generous people I know.”

“So to all of our Army and military spouses, and on behalf of the Army and all of our soldiers on point for the nation, thank you for your unyielding commitment, your profound strength and courage, and for your devoted service,”’ Shinseki said. “God bless you and your families, the Army, and our great country.”

Now, go get those flowers.

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