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Daughter of Sgt. 1st Class Michael Pickens and Army veteran Amanda Pickens
Hi my name is Makenzie Pickens and my dad is Sgt. 1st Class Michael Pickens; he just came back from Afghanistan. While my dad was gone [to Afghanistan], my whole room was filled with American flags and pictures of my dad and me. Also, when my dad was gone, my friends would cheer me up if I were having a bad day by giving me a hug or something like that. Ever since I was five, I have wanted to be somebody that saved lives, like a doctor.
I went to the funeral of Staff Sgt. Loeza and it was really sad. What is even sadder is that my dad knew and was friends with Staff Sgt. Loeza. I started crying when the soldiers shot the guns, thinking, "What if we were here for my dad?" Boy did I cry! ...
I also went to the Bulldog Brigade Memorial Ceremony. While they were saying the names of the people who had passed, my mom recognized one of the names and remembered it was one of her friends from high school. Twelve of the names on the memorial died during my Dad's deployment.
When my dad was deployed, I really got more and more interested in the Army. If there was a fundraiser or something like that, I would try my best to go, or if I could not go I would ask my mom a lot of questions about what she did that day. My dad has opened a lot of doors for me, like when I went on my first rollercoaster ride or when I rode my first two-wheel bike.
When my dad was gone, our friend joined the Army and deployed. When he deployed, he lost both legs and one arm, it was really hard on my parents since my dad was deployed. I was so excited the day my dad came home for good from Afghanistan and knowing that he was safe again was a pretty good feeling. I got the first hug, too, and that was awesome!
My dad was gone for my birthday and before my mom came to wake me up she was on Skype with my dad, and instead of my mom saying, "Get up and get ready for school," my dad was singing "Happy Birthday." That was really special to me.
A couple months after my dad was deployed, I started looking for verses for him and this is one I found: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13. Going through this deployment I saw high and low emotions that taught me that freedom is not free. God bless our troops!