On this day in November we all see reminders and pictures of men and women who have served in our military. We see Facebook postings that we “like”. We forward on email chains. But for most of us – the day comes and goes and we are on to other things. But this year, I have really challenged myself to see if I am really paying the homage, respect and appreciation that these individuals really deserve. Am I truly remembering? Am I really reflecting on what these men and women have done so that I can enjoy the very freedom I have today? Was it just a fleeting thought and a few “likes” on Facebook or was it a true reflection and appreciation of exactly what their service means? Admittedly I must confess that it hasn’t been enough from my standpoint.
With all of our faults and issues, we still live in the greatest land on earth. And we do so because of the very sacrifices that these individuals have made for us.
What exactly is involved in the service that these men and women do for us? What do their sacrifices look like? Well I think if we look around us we can see varying degrees of sacrifice by our military men and women. For some – the sacrifice comes in the form of a being away from loved ones for extended periods of time. I know about this sacrifice this year as my daughter is home with her seven month old son while his father is deployed in the nuclear navy. He won’t be here for his first Thanksgiving. Or his first Christmas. And maybe not his first birthday. This sacrifice is made by him as well as my daughter. How many mothers and fathers are away from their families during the holidays? Countless.
For others – the sacrifice is one of a permanent injury. Some have emotional and psychological scarring and trauma. Individuals come home from places that they have served and while the conflict and war may be over, the memories for them are NEVER over. They live with these memories and are haunted every day of their lives by atrocious things that they witnessed. For some, the sacrifice has come in the form of physical injury. Maybe they lost an arm or a leg. Their reality moving forward is that the very things you and I do every day with such ease, like getting in and out of a car, or feeding themselves, is now a struggle for them. Not only do the veterans live with these injuries but their families live through these struggles with them as well.
And of course there is the ultimate sacrifice of losing one’s life. There is nothing more that can be said about this sacrifice but there are many families affected by the loss of a loved one who has served our country.
How many more stories are out there for these brave men and women? There are so many that we couldn’t begin to capture all of them. And how do we really show our gratitude for their service and sacrifice?
My father used to greet almost every plane of soldiers that touched ground on US soil at the Baltimore airport. He, who was a veteran himself, has now passed on but I remember the late nights he would wait there for these planes full of soldiers because he wanted to be sure that he showed his gratitude by being there to greet these soldiers. Not all of us live in cities where these soldiers arrive but I would venture to say that we all live in communities with veterans. So my challenge for you on this Veteran’s Day is to reflect on your thinking and level of appreciation for the men and women who have served or are serving in the military to allow you to live with freedom. I challenge you to really take time to think and reflect upon the tremendous privilege we have because of the service and sacrifice made by these men and women. And more than that – I challenge you to do something for a veteran. It doesn’t just need to be on Veteran’s day that we remember and reach out to do a kind gesture. It can be any time at all. Whatever it is that we do – I’m sure it will be quite small in comparison to what they do for us.
Thankfully, Respectfully and Appreciatively,