I come from a long line of military. Grandfather, father, cousins, uncles, friends – all wrote that check knowing full well it could be cashed at any moment. World War II, Vietnam, Gulf War, Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom – just a few of the wars that family and friends have fought. After hearing very few stories of what was seen and done in wars and combat zones, I attempted to join the NAVY to follow in the brave footsteps of all those who had set such an amazing example. I still remember the moment my father showed me his military uniform and some of the medals he’d received from service. He never really told me stories about the war, and I plan to sit down with him sometime and ask – before it’s too late to hear them in his words & voice, if he wants to. I remember watching my father do many things and his hands would just tremble uncontrollably. “Occupational Hazard” was always his answer when I would question why. As I sit and hold the medals in my hands, my heart hurts to think of what so many people see and do that fight for us, but my mind conjures up images that – I’m sure – are tame compared to memories. Most don’t talk about what went on… the memories are too vivid, painful. And I don’t blame them. Here are the medals my father gave to me:
I have many friends that are married to service members. They aren’t to go without recognition either. They sacrifice the ones they love for us as well. Nights that their children cry for daddy or mommy. Days that they ask “Is today the day I’ll receive a letter or a phone call from the one I love?” I know that long before news stories are told, families are aware of any losses, but I can’t imagine the sinking feeling when a wife, child, parent, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, friend sees a story and wonders just for a moment “Is that my loved one?” I’ve seen joyous reunions, and been part of mournful losses. They all break my heart in one way or another.
Too many people take for granted the fact that freedom isn’t indeed FREE. They complain about things they cannot change, yet every day, there are those that fight to give those people the right to complain. And they do it with selfless love. To all of those veterans and soldiers, I simply say THANK YOU!
Thank you for your courage.
Thank you for your bravery.
Thank you for your passion.
Thank you for your love.
Thank you for your service.
Thank you for your sacrifice.
There are merely not enough “thank you’s” that will fully convey the debt of gratitude that my country and I owe to each and every one of you, men and women alike.