Today, I had the pleasure of spending three hours celebrating and honoring our nations finest – the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard. I am thankful for the men and women who have made countless sacrifices – even their lives, to give me and my family the freedoms that we enjoy.
I am thankful that my girls have grown up knowing how important it is to support and respect our country’s heroes. My father served in the Vietnam War during what was arguably the worst years of that war. Two of my brothers were born in Japan, where he was stationed. He saw things no human being should have to see. When he came back from that war, he was not celebrated. He was made to feel ashamed for fighting for our freedoms. The first thing he did was throw his uniform away. That is a travesty. What I wouldn’t give for that uniform – a reminder of his dedication to our country.
This summer, I watched my girls run to catch up with a man in a motorized wheel chair who had passed them a short time earlier. They had noticed he was wearing a WWII hat. They caught up and stopped him to thank him for his service. They told me later that they had wanted to thank him for “fighting for them.” They were 8 and 6 years old at the time, tender ages to be aware of what a symbol on an old man’s hat meant. It seemed like they knew immediately that war and personal sacrifice which took place sixty years before they were even born, was something to honor. It was personal to them. They felt deeply that this stranger demanded their respect and thankfulness.
Now, I don’t know what this man went through. I don’t know what he saw or what he sacrificed for our country. Though, I’m sure the sacrifices were great and the memories are marked in his mind forever. I don’t think he knew that my little girls sprinted almost a mile in a public park to catch up with him to tell him their thanks. But I hope it meant something to him that they took the time to appreciate him, even if it was just a few minutes. Maybe it gave him hope that a new generation – the future our our country, values the military that keeps us free. I don’t know what it did for him that day, but I know what it did for me. I stood with misty eyes and a full heart, oblivious to all that was going on around me, because I saw my young children understanding in a tangible way that we can never take our freedom for granted, not even in the small daily moments.
“It is not enough to say we must not wage war. It is necessary to love peace and sacrifice for it.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Although a soldier by profession, I have never felt any sort of fondness for war, and I have never advocated it, except as a means of peace.” -Ulysses S. Grant
“Bad things do happen in the world, like war, natural disasters, disease. But out of those situations always arise stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.” -Daryn Kagan
“Peace is not an absence of war, it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice.” -Baruch Spinoza