22 Days for Gratitude – Day 8: Veterans

Each year as Veteran’s Day comes and goes I tell myself that I will make it a point to sit down and writing something meaningful about this day. I have never found the words. This strikes me as odd because I’m married to a veteran of the USMC, a Marine who served two tours in Iraq . By his second deployment, Rob and I were newly married. He shipped out about eight weeks after we married and returned about eight months later. In hindsight – in the grand scheme of things – the time apart flew by, but for those eight months the days trickled by slowly. Thankfully, Rob and I were able to keep in almost daily contact, save for when communications were taken offline.

There is great significance, at least for me, that Veteran’s Day falls during the same month that we celebrate Thanksgiving. Every year on this day my thoughts wander to other families who were and are currently in the very same situation that I was in 7 years ago. And it reminds me of just how grateful I am to have Rob here with me. Especially now that we are both parents. I think of how easily this could not have happened had God not been so gracious and brought Rob home to me. As I write, I think about all of the other families that are missing a mother or father. I think about how many Thanksgiving tables will be missing someone; about the many smiling faces that won’t be there around the decorated tree on Christmas morning. This so easily could have been me and I am thankful everyday that it isn’t.

I don’t want to make this a negative post or to be cynical, this isn’t why I’m finally writing this. It is important to note that this next part doesn’t apply to a lot of the people I know, just a small handful. I get angry each year when I see some of the long-winded Facebook posts from people who are “so very grateful for the service that our nation’s finest have given in the name of God and country”…but then abruptly point out that their statement of gratitude in no way shape or form means that they always agree with the reasons why we go to war. Someone once, to my face, even informed me that she didn’t see the necessity in pointing out and making a public gesture showing how many members of our armed forces were dying in the Middle East because if they signed up for it, it should be expected as being part of their job.

I can definitely tell you that I have never wanted to slash someone’s tires more than I did at that moment.

She was right about one thing. This looming reality unfortunately is a small, but hugely significant, part of the life of a member of the armed forces. The chance of being maimed, severely injured or emotionally traumatized or worse are always present. You may be thinking, “But, we have times of peace, don’t we? This won’t always be a way of life for the members of our military, right?” Let’s hope not.

But please, stop and think about this…we don’t thank them because we are glad for war.  While there may not always be war, let us be thankful that there are always people willing to stand in line first should it come. Men and women who are willing to get out of high school and take the road less traveled by. Willing to leave spouses, children and friends at home, despite the risks, the danger or the possibility for the worst to occur. They are willing to face these significant risks by serving so that not all of us must do so. Willing to endure conflict so that you may uphold to your own personal convictions to feel otherwise and retain the right to say so.

This is what it means to respect the uniform, you should respect what it stands for.

Strength. Honor. Courage. Dedication to duty. Dedication to country.

And to respect the person wearing it, who boldly embodies such things.

And thank God that such men and women have lived.

This is why we say, “thank you.”

It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather, we should thank God that such men lived.

– George Patton

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