Have You Thanked A Vet?

I have freedoms I take for granted and liberties that other countries are denied and I owe them to our military. Our country has been fighting or occupying other countries pretty consistently since the early 90’s.  Many of us know or have lost someone that volunteered to do so much, and I want to thank them.

My Dad is an Army combat vet as was his father and his father before him. My step Dad got his honorable discharge from the Air Force and I could but won’t honor the many men and women in my family and life that have served this country that I get to call home.

I need to honor and think of the men and women that come back changed. They’re asked to do what most of us can never imagine. They risk their lives and know that their faith is their only safety. They endure so much fear, discomfort and loneliness and name it duty. Soldiers are made of much more than I could ever be.

My Dad’s brain protects him as it did during war by not allowing him to remember the names of those he meets. He spent long enough in a war zone to not want to remember. I learned early on not to surprise him to wake him. The nightmares he lived still plague him as if the war were yesterday instead of 1967 and because of this, his fists are up before he is when startled out of sleep. Even a holiday like today is painful for a person who has survived so much while so many around him did not.

The images of war can easily plague a person into seeing it all happen at home and to those they love. Dad always has a plan for his family for the war he sees in Los Angeles.

Today I am happy to say “thank you” to those that have given so much for the freedoms I have. I can’t think of a holiday that moves me so deeply every year. I don’t house hop or spend the day in the kitchen. I quietly remember those I love and what the front lines of freedom have left with them and those that love them. Most years I do this from home, but today from work. My sense of motherly duty dictates I do whatever it takes for my boys.

I thank you for volunteering. I thank you for spending your first time away from home at boot camp. I thank you for learning how to take orders and learn to safely use your weapons. I thank you for being a role model and lending a hand to those you may not know and may not like. I thank you for embracing your job through the loss of your hearing or limbs and I appreciate your willingness to march back to those front lines with your Purple Heart. I thank you for the legacy you leave behind. I thank you for the living legacy of gratitude for our military that I get to embody and pass on to my sons.

I thank your military families. I thank the spouses that keep your family together as a single parent until you return. I thank your spouses for easing you back into family life until your next deployment. And I thank you for spending your holidays with your co-workers so I can be with my family, oblivious to your sacrifice.

A generation of children now know what it is to have a parent, aunt or uncle, grandparent or family friend go to another place, and maybe never make it home. Maybe it’s not a lost life, but a limb or eyesight or hearing. Either way, they are changed by more than the physical.

So many young people give up their innocence for duty and honor, and today is a time to remember to give them our gratitude. For me, I feel a sense of warmth towards anyone in uniform, because I know that there is so much that I get to thank them for every day of my life.

Did you thank your Veterans today? You might see one with ink carved flesh to remind them of something they’ll never forget.  They may be wearing a hat or a patch because they find other vets and they connect with a history that the rest of us can never understand.

Buy them a drink at your local bar, but make sure you give them that look in the face that says, “I see you.  You matter to me.  I honor you and would love to support you.”  Offer to cover the cost of a meal at a restaurant or their coffee behind you at Starbucks.  (This absolutely applies to our Police Force as well.)

You get to be the change, as do I.

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