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Heroes Do Not Always Wear Capes: Sometimes They Wear Camo

Hello everyone! It’s Madison – Miss Inland Empire – here again. When I signed up to write this blog I had a different topic in mind but after my Memorial Day weekend, I have decided to take my blog in a different direction. Hopefully you enjoy it!

10421384_799216216860298_7371693171326213168_nI am no stranger to the sacrifices our military makes, I was born and raised in the United States of America and grew up with a Grandfather who served in the Air Force long before my time. I always understood why we should support and be proud of our military but when my Grandpa suddenly passed away, I was 6 years old, I was devastated. I, did however, find consolation in the memorial service my family held for him. He was buried in a National Cemetery and my grandmother received the American flag in remembrance of him and the dedication he had for his country. Even though my family history embraced serving in the military, I never really comprehended the magnitude of holidays such as Veterans Day, Armed Forces Day, and more recently Memorial Day.

10986427_799216133526973_9083342562060118721_nThis Memorial Day weekend, I spent the day at the Riverside National Cemetery where I experienced my first flag placing ceremony. Myself along with a couple thousand other people placed 186,000 flags – one on the tombstone of every hero who was laid to rest in that cemetery. About an hour into placing flags I found myself overcome with emotion, I was reading the names on every stone that I placed a flag and I couldn’t help but think about the family that soldier left behind to dedicate his life to his country. I can never pay back the sacrifices these soldiers make.

11111621_799215980193655_9159713188601339586_nI have celebrated and honored 21 Memorial Days in my lifetime but I never truly understood exactly what we, as a country, were celebrating. Of course I knew it was to honor our fallen soldiers but now I see it as paying tribute to heroes. Heroes that gave everything so that I can wake up and go to school, or type this blog, or speak my mind without any form of persecution.

11138663_799215856860334_5155502178354211771_nThis was also the first Memorial Day where I was unable to contact some of my friends in the military (due to training/deployment) to thank them for their service. Having friends so close to me make such a massive sacrifice astonishes me. My friends in the Armed Forces are some of the most selfless people I am blessed to know. I am thankful that all my friends have, so far, come home but so many of their comrades have not. For the ones who do not come home I now understand that they would not want us to mourn but to live the dream they died fighting for.

IMG_3964So in closing, I want to thank Mary (the Flag Placing Ceremony coordinator) for allowing me to partake in such a humbling, beautiful, and wonderful experience. For everyone who has a friend or loved on in the service please call them, hug them, and most importantly thank them. For those of you who are mourning the loss of a hero, please know that they were not laid to rest in vain; but that I am thankful for their sacrifice everyday, and can only continue to honor the life they lived for it took an amazing person to give of themselves so selflessly, for what is truly the greatest nation in the world.

See you next time,

Madison

Miss Inland Empire 2015

 

 

 

Miss San Diego: St. Patrick’s Day Cake Pops!

Get cooking with Diamond, Miss San Diego! Today she shows you how to make green and white cake pops in honor of St. Patrick’s Day!

 

Be Proud of Who You Are

10448179_10152875008248659_8538628945407709887_nCue the cheesy “You can do anything!” and “New Year, New You!” articles. January always seems to be full of them :) I know that topics like these can seem super cliché and overdone but having recently experienced what it means to be proud of myself and become a “New Me,” I wanted to share it with you and hopefully encourage you as we get into 2015.

As a brand new titleholder, I was immediately bombarded with a lot of information, well wishes, and responsibilities. Add that on top of leaving home 3 days after winning to finish my last semester of college in a different state. I’m sure you can imagine how exciting, surreal and overwhelming it all was. It’s not that it wasn’t fun; it just felt like a lot to know about and respond to at once. This is my first MAO title so I had no idea what the contestant portal was or what my “crash” was 😉 I’m your typical STEM student who knew more about bacteriophages than butt glue!

Feeling as if I had two polar opposite sides to my personality created this split in heart. I felt like I had to prove to my friends and family that I hadn’t changed and become a self-absorbed princess overnight like movies and television like to portray pageant winners. I wanted to show them I’m still the same nerdy Diamond who likes sci-fi novels and graphic design! But as a role model and representative for all of San Diego County, I felt like I needed to prove I was the perfect winner, who posted great selfies and was a seasoned pro (even though I’m not). It isn’t that anyone put these pressures on me – it was what I perceived people would want from me.

Well this stress only lasted about two weeks before I talked to my mom about it (aren’t moms awesome?!) and she gave me a great pep talk about Just. Being. Me. She said, “Just be Diamond. They chose you as their winner for a reason. You showed your true personality in that interview and that’s what they liked.” That helped me so much because it reminded me that no one is asking me to be different than I already am. The “Diamond” in interview mode is the same “Diamond” in student mode – she just talks about different things. And looks a whole lot nicer for interview than for class!

I share this story to encourage you. Who you are is good enough. You are truly special, unique, gifted, intelligent, and graceful. You might be quirky or composed; goofy, or sarcastic. That is awesome! And I mean it because you have to be proud of yourself and be your own cheerleader sometimes. When we’re proud of who we are, it naturally shines on the outside. And it’s that very glow that the children who want to wear our crowns, the organizations that ask us to speak, and the judges that decide our next step in this journey notice and fall in love with. You GLOW girl!

The next morning after talking to my mom, I made a cup of tea and the message on the bag said “Be proud of who you are.” It was like God winking at me. I know my Miss San Diego and real families are so so proud of me and wouldn’t want me to change. I don’t want me to change either.

Here’s to a new year filled with love, family, and pride in who you are. Maybe for the first time, your “New Year, New Me” will actually be “New Year, Real Me.”

So much love,
Diamond
Miss San Diego 2015