Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Time to Thank

To everything there is a season,
a time for every purpose under the sun.
A time to be born and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
a time to kill and a time to heal ...
a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance ...
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to lose and a time to seek;
a time to rend and a time to sew;
a time to keep silent and a time to speak;
a time to love and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

I know this particular scripture reference is used for weddings and funerals quite often. However, when I hear it I think of veterans and soldiers. In my opinion, they know better than most how there is a time for everything, even if it isn't what we want to do. A soldier who watches his comrades fall in the heat of a battle knows he cannot stop at that moment to mourn. The battle must first be brought to an end. One of the first things a bootcamp recruit learns is that you do not speak unless you are told to do so. I read this scripture, and every single thing on there is something an active duty soldier can relate to, particularly those serving their country in hostile lands against often unseen enemies.

Our country is what it is because of the men and women who serve and have served in our Armed Forces. Lawmakers and politicians shape the policies of the nation, but it is now, and always has been, our military who have fought for and secured the freedom for them to do so. They are owed more than our simple thanks. They deserve our loyalty, our unfailing support, and the recognition that there can not be a great nation without a mighty and great military protecting it.

As time goes on and we lose the remaining WWII and Korean War veterans, and see their places in the floats, parades, and ceremonies continue to be filled with the younger generations of veterans it is my hope that our youngest generation will be raised with an appreciation for these men and women who sacrifice and serve for all of us. Patriotism is not something we are born with. It is something we are taught. Gratitude is not something we should express once or twice a year at flag ceremonies. It is something we should live each day as we do our civic duty to exercise and preserve the rights our brave soldiers have fought to provide for us.

A few years ago we were at a Veteran's Day Parade, and Faith was signing "Thank you!" to the veterans as they went by. Some of the men in the WWII calvacade mistook the sign for "thank you" as her blowing kisses to them. They in turn blew kisses back to her. Dear Veterans... today we are thanking you, but if you prefer you can think of our thanks as blown kisses. This will always be one of my favorite memories. I love my country, and I am so grateful to all of our veterans for all they have done for all of us, and all they continue to do to bring those same freedoms and privelages to people around the world.

This is my favorite veteran. We have known each other for over 33 years now. After bootcamp he served in Germany, and then on a 2 year tour of duty in war-torn Bosnia. He returned to Germany, and after re-enlisting was stationed stateside for the rest of his enlistment. This is his bootcamp picture.
This is a photo we had taken when he returned home on a short leave before his deployment. Afterwards I watched him get on that plane and had no idea when I would see him again. We had the picture taken for our mother, and it was several years before I would see my brother again. Unfortunately, by the time we saw each other again we weren't nearly as young, skinny, and naive as we had been when he left. (I wasn't sporting the 80's hair anymore by then either, and he came home with a lot more color on his uniform in the form of bars.)

Hey Jesse... I love ya, man! Happy Veteran's Day. Thank you.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

But the great news is that he did come home and in one piece. Thank God!

I love him and he's my favorite vet too!

Love and hugs to you both,