November 11 each year finds me looking for a new and more dramatic way to express the gratitude and respect I feel every day for the men and women who have served in the Armed Forces in any capacity for any length of time. Then I write it down and hope that somehow just one Veteran who has not heard or read those words will know. Know what, you say? That the sacrifice made by him or her was not unnoticed. Was not unappreciated and was not for nothing. I want every past service person to know that out here wandering around in this free world is a woman who holds them in high esteem and who prays every day for their good health and good fortune. I pray they will always have love in their life and they will always remember the woman who wrote that piece that year that touched them in a way none had done before. That woman said what they had always longed to hear. Maybe this is the year. Maybe I am that woman.
I am the daughter of a Veteran of the US Army. I am the mother of a Veteran of the US Navy. My family is filtered with many Veterans from nearly all the branches of Armed Forces. That is to say, our family is much like most American families with many members who have given years of their lives in service to the United States of America. They have signed themselves over to become property of our country for a specified period of time and they have given up their personal lives to protect and ensure a free country for their loved ones and themselves. They did this for you and for me.
Some volunteered and some were 'called' to duty by Uncle Sam, but all were given a contract to sign with the payment being x number of years of their life.The contract includes every aspect of one's being including the very life of the person signing and yet, they signed. The contract required them to give ALL, if need be and far too many did that.
As you walk through your life today and tomorrow and every day hence, if you pass a woman or a man in uniform, speak. Yes, speak. Say that you appreciate their service. Say that you appreciate their honor. Say that you appreciate their sacrifice. Say that you are honored to shake their hand, then shake their hand. If you can buy a drink, a meal, a subway ticket or anything else you see them about to purchase, why not do that? It's such a small price compared to the one they have paid and are still paying. You will walk away a little humbled and a lot grateful that you are able to do something kind for someone who is willing to die for your freedom.
To every Veteran and family member who might be reading this, please accept my appreciation. Please accept my gratitude and my respect. Please know that what you have given will never be taken for granted and the fact that you are still among us is a tremendous gift to us. Please know that as you served your country, you served me and that does not go without my complete and utter understanding of your sacrifice and your dedication. Stand proud and tall and always know that there are millions of people going about their daily lives without a care because of what you personally did for them.
"Freedom isn't Free" is a phrase everyone likes to throw around these days. In fact, with the loses of the current war, we are all too aware of the price of freedom. I pray for a day when war is no longer the answer. I pray for a day when serving in the Armed Forces is an honor but not a life threatening job. A day when these letters will be written by people who have never been touched by war. I pray and I hope and I will be forever grateful for each of you who have paid the price toward making this happen. Your sacrifice is my humility. Your bravery is my cowardliness. I have never done anything to serve my country. I have never been active in any group that has moved this country forward. I am only the child of and the mother of and the aunt of and the sister-in-law of and the friend of so very many who have.
With the greatest humility, I do thank each of you. I pray for each of you. I respect and admire each of you.
Carry this message with you, if you have not been recognized and know that from this humble writer, you have been RECOGNIZED ~ APPRECIATED ~ HONORED.`
God bless each and every Veteran and bring you personal peace.
Dedicated in memory of Donald Settle, Gary Brewer and George "ED" Dodge, may each of you rest in peace. Always loved and never forgotten.