In May we celebrate all those who have served and died for our country, for it’s values, promises and beliefs. But on November 11th it’s time to remember ALL the men and women who have served and are serving in the armed forces of this country, in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard. Without these dedicated men and women, the precious freedoms and the ideal we think of as America would not be possible.
As holidays go, we don’t do enough to honor these men and women. But we should. July 4th celebrates the beginning of this country and Memorial Day commemorates those who have died defending it. But America and all it stands for would not be possible without the every day presence of the greatest armed forces in the world. Every day, from the cooks and clerks to the generals at the Pentagon and especially to those with boots on the ground in dangerous places, in airplanes flying dangerous missions, on battle groups projecting our values on the sea far from home, and in boats protecting our coasts, we owe this day in their honor. If you have a flag, fly it. If you know a serviceman or woman, take the time to tell them THANK YOU. And if you believe in a higher power, spend some time in prayer asking for protection and guidance for the men and women still in uniform everywhere.
I know many of you have veterans in your families and I’m sure you are proud of them and the sacrifices they have made. I’m proud of my father and three uncles who all served in WWII, my brother Scotty who served in Vietnam and ten years more, my late husband, Cal, my step-son Jeff and my brother-in law George who both served in the US Coast Guard. My nephew John was first a Marine and later a reservist and Corbin, my Godson spent several years in the Army, and now a grandson-in-law Chris who is a medic in the Army. I also had the privilege to work for Doug Curtis who served in the Army for thirty years. There are many more veterans on my family tree, all the way back to the Revolutionary War and on this day, I honor all of them.
And I think, while we’re at it, we should spare a thought for the families who stand behind our veterans. It takes a special kind of courage to offer up a man or woman’s life for an ideal, but it’s got to be just as hard for the ones they love, to love them and still let them go, knowing they might not come home. It’s impossible for me to imagine waking up every morning wondering if the man I love is safe, or if he’s stepped into harm’s way a long way from home. Every morning for weeks and months, or a year and longer. What kind of strength it must take to love such a man or woman? It’s easier to imagine being a parent, because I am one and while my children didn’t deliberately go into harm’s way, every parent goes through agony when their teenager is late coming home. So imagine that 1,000 times worse. And what about the children who don’t even really understand the magnitude of what their parent is doing or why, but just knowing they aren’t there for birthdays and holidays and soccer games and to tuck them into bed at night.