I have the freedom to write about whatever pops in my head and post it out there in viral world – that’s pretty damn awesome. After I tend to my pack of dogs I can go to the grocery store and stock up on supplies, wearing whatever I like, to prepare for spending the day with friends at a concert today/tonight.
All of these things seem very insignificant but they are all things that I get to do, I have the freedom to do, are all afforded because thousands of people I do not know have signed up to ensure I have the ability to make choices in my life.
But all are not unknown. My father served, my grandfathers served, by best friend from high school is still serving and now my adopted boys are serving. They are not nameless faces; these are people that I love.
When I was growing up I knew my dad was in the service but it was not something he ever talked about. When I was a teenager I asked about it once, why he never discussed it.
He calmly told me that he was proud to serve but it is not something he wants to remember. He saw things that no human should ever see, had memories that no one should ever have haunt them, it was a period of time that he did his duty but now his duty was his family.
He shared one story, as he felt I was old enough, and when he finished he said that it was things like that they he did not want to touch me. Life would show me enough ugly, but his job as a father was to protect me from as much of it as he could.
He also admitted to me that some of these things affected him so much that he had a lot of difficulty dealing with them when he came home. At the time I could not comprehend that.
This was my dad, the strongest man I’ve ever know. My quiet hero. There was nothing my dad couldn’t deal with or defeat – he was my dad. Admitting to his young teenage daughter that there were demons that he battled makes him more of a hero to me because he was more than a hero – he was human.
That day has never left me. I think it wonderful when we participate in parades and make loud proclamations to support our troops during big rally times – but what about every day?
Every time I see a young man or woman in military dress I think back to that day. Knowing that they may not yet have encountered things that no person should and I am thankful.
My son asked me once when he was young why I go up and shake the hand of anyone in uniform and simply say thank you then walk away.
I told him that they are appreciated and they deserve to know that, even if it is by some random lady walking up to them. With each handshake I say a silent prayer that they are saved from the ugly. That they get to grow up, fall in love, enjoy bright sunny days, have a family and live a fulfilled life.
When I see an older vet and the scars of his battle are evident as his battle was harder, I say a silent prayer and thank him. His war may not be over and that is something I can never fully comprehend, and all I can do is say a silent prayer and remember.
Their fight is not over when then come home. There are battles in the every day life. We all read about the inequity of their health care, the deplorable pay that is given to them; but they also may have struggles which none of us can see or ever comprehend.
I will cheer tonight at the concert when there is a speech given asking every one to toast and salute the military past and present for all they do; but what about tomorrow and the next day?
What about when you are at that next concert or sports game when you see someone in military dress? Are you going to just pass by? Will you even remember the swelling of pride that you felt on this holiday weekend with a crowd of people in saluting them? Or will you simply walk by on your way to the nacho stand?
It is not my intention to come across as preachy – it is just personal to me.
My father battled demons for me – that’s personal. My boys, my babies, just enlisted – that’s personal to me. My good friend is still serving – that’s personal to me.
These are people that I love, people that make a difference in my world, people that bring out the momma bear in me if anyone ever thinks of speaking negatively about them or the service. It is personal. As I grow older it gets more personal.
I have a new neighbor, a young mother of two small girls. Her husband is stationed oversees. She can’t be more than mid twenties and her daughters are three and five. I say a little prayer for her husband every day and made a silent promise to watch over them while they are here. It is what I can do.
As her husband is serving our country and protecting all of us I can adopt them and keep an eye out in his absence, it is the least I can do. I think my dogs have even taken to adopting them as Bandit keeps jumping the fence and hangs out in their backyard.
I may not have served my country but I think we can all do our part in serving our service men and women. The next time you stop for your morning coffee or grab a quick bite for lunch if you see someone in uniform – pay their tab.
If you have a military family in your neighborhood with their loved one oversees take a moment to see if there is anything you can do for them. Maybe they need their grass cut, have a small repair that you could do, or even buy bubbles for their kids to enjoy playing with outside.
In passing someone in uniform take that extra moment to shake their hand and say thank you because whether you realize it or not, it is personal.
Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW
Certified Professional Resume Writer
Career Polish, Inc.