If you ever see me make a political post; run for your life and finish those items on your bucket list–it probably means the world is ending and you’d best prepare.
It’s not that I don’t have opinions or deep beliefs and values–I do! It’s just that I have absolutely no savvy whatsoever when someone starts talking about elephants and donkeys.
I only preface my real post with this because I don’t want you to think it’s politically motivated. It’s not. My love for our soldiers extends far beyond whatever partisan strategy puts them in harm’s way at any certain period in time. My love for our soldiers is quite simply built upon a foundation of patriotism, respect and deep gratitude.
It may be cliché’ to write this on Veteran’s Day, but it’s purposeful and pointed. I’m embarrassed to think about the times I’ve celebrated our soldiers, cheered at a parade and paid for a meal or two only to forget them the other 362-364 days of the year that we aren’t officially honoring their sacrifice and service.
Even though I don’t “celebrate” them everyday, I do think about our men and women in uniform quite often. They are on my mind every time I travel across the country and find them sitting in the seat beside me (especially the cute ones who looked liked they just started shaving) and every time I drive by (or to) one of the six bases I work at during the year as a civilian. I get misty during the national anthem and “Fort Riley Day” is my favorite KSU football outing.
I’m glued to the documentaries and easily cry when story after story is shared about those who have given the ultimate sacrifice. My heart aches for the soldiers who are still alive but barely living because of the things they saw, did or experienced when they were ripped away from their families. Deployed over and over again so that I could stay home–safe, sheltered and protected with my own family.
Maybe it’s guilt that motivates this undercurrent and ever-present need I have to thank every single soldier I encounter. The fact that I should have stepped up myself but was too scared and selfish to even consider it.
During Desert Storm, while I was safe marrying my college sweetheart and having babies; our soldiers were buried in bunkers, sleeping on the ground and missing their own sweethearts and babies.
Years after the shock of 9/11 (kind of) wore off, when I was quick to complain about the heat out on the golf course or during a run, these men and women were facing dust storms and 100+ degree weather all while dressed in fatigues and lugging heavy equipment and gear across the desert. When I whined because my husband was too busy to pay attention to me or my kids were taking my last drop of energy–many other families were stuck at home wondering every night when (or if) they would see their beloved soldier again. And IF they were fortunate enough to come home–wondering how they would integrate back into family life after living a non-life for the 2 years before.
But, this is only me guessing. I have absolutely no idea what real battles and turmoil those soldiers and families have fought and still fight. I only know that I’m safe and sound in a country I love because of the generations who fought before me and the generations to come who will fight for my children and grandchildren. Whatever it is the next fight might be.
How do you thank someone for that?
Hugs. Hugs that express the complex emotions words can’t capture.
I have given many a tough captain/sergeant/lieutenant/private and even a scary, big colonel an earnest thank you and hug on more than one occasion. An excitable dork by nature, I can’t help myself and usually end up bumping noses and leaving bruises in my eagerness to show appreciation. Fortunately, these folks are class acts and any awkwardness I naturally inject into a situation is soon replaced with that ever-present humility and quiet strength only a soldier can exude with such grace and presence.
I’m also very blessed to call many of these soldiers true and dear lifetime friends. Friends I will always love and admire knowing that I’ll NEVER be able to repay my debt to them…not that any would ever even expect that.
Which makes me love them even more.
Note: The first picture is from the Vietnam Wall at the Washington DC Mall (2007). Quite an emotional scene as I watched them wipe their eyes and hug solemnly as they found name after name of their fellow soldiers.
Next Up: “Reader’s Challenge: Friday Favorites” First installment coming with some AWESOME insight from my readers!