Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Its Four in the Morning...

It was four in the morning when she rolled over and couldn’t seem to fall back to sleep. The window was open slightly and it was cold out but she liked the feel and smell of the fresh late fall air. She laid there on her back and watched the ceiling fan slowly spin around and around listened to her husband sleeping soundly next to her, she watched him for a while then decided to forfeit and get out of bed.

She stopped to peek in at her kids before making her way to the kitchen for a drink of water, and then she crossed the dining room to find a spot and curl up on the couch under a cozy throw and watch the clouds slowly pass in front of the moon out the front window.

This happens every now and again, she’ll watch the sky until it begins to turn from black to cobalt blue to shades of orange and yellow as it rises above the park across the street. She won’t turn on the TV, and she won’t read a book. She’ll just sit there and stare out the window at the sky, her throat will turn dry, her palms will begin to sweat and her heart begins to race. She isn’t sick, and she isn’t necessarily a morning person. She is one of the 1.4% of all American women who’ve served in the United States military. She is one of the 5.2% of the United States population who’ve served our country in times of war and conflict.

Those are small numbers; hell, it’s not easy for someone to make the sacrifice that she has made, not even she knew full well what she was in for when she signed up. The morning of the day she made that decision she did what all veterans find themselves doing before they swear in, they look at themselves and take full inventory, for her it was in the bathroom mirror, it was partially fogged over but she looked in her eyes through the reflection nonetheless. She looked at her cheekbones she got from her father, and her nose and chin she got from her mother. She looked at the color in her eyes and the deep seeded need to protect those less fortunate from her grandfather.

She stood there and thought about all that she loved in the world, she thought about her brothers and sisters and the little neighbor boys across the street and how sweet they were to her every time she walked past them to her car to go to work. Their dirty little faces as they played in the puddles in the street. She didn’t have a boyfriend then, nor did she have kids of her own.

She looked in that mirror and thought about all those around the world being oppressed and tortured and killed and brought up hiding in their homes from the fighting in the streets and she made a decision. She decided then and there to do something about it, she looked into her eyes and prayed to her God and with resolution determined the full value of her own life. She decided that her life and blood was worth sacrificing for the good of the young boys across the street, for the freedom of those whose faces she looked at in the news each night. She knows the statistics, she knows that the freedoms granted to the majority are fought for and maintained by the absolute minority. She knows Freedom isn’t free, that there is a price on it and someone has to pay that forward.

What she didn’t realize is that the sacrifices our veterans make doesn’t end when they leave the military, when they are done with their tours of duty. That sacrifice is echoed in their daily lives when they go to the grocery store and find it difficult to determine which box of cereal to choose from knowing there are many whom don’t have that liberty. It is echoed, when they fall awake in the early morning hours just before dawn, and they spend hours looking out at the moon waiting for the safety of the noise of the day to begin, when quiet and stillness is frightening and constantly threatens to spill over your brow in sweat as you relive moments of bloody conflict and turmoil in your sleep.

7.3% of all living Americans have served in the military at some point in their lives. Please say thank you, whether or not you agree with their ideals, they made a conscious decision to sacrifice themselves for the rest of us, and that deserves recognition.

Veterans Day 2015

“Thank you for your service”.  As veterans we will hear that phrase now and again. A lesser used one seems to be “thanks for your sacrifice”. The thing about sacrifice is that it’s not a onetime forfeiture. The sacrifice a veteran makes stays with them for the rest of their lives. You can see it in the eyes of your grandfather, your aunt, your father, mother, brother and little sister as well as your neighbor. The sort of sacrifice a veteran makes in the service of their country, their loved ones and the generations yet to come can take a momentous toll on that veteran.

I appreciate Veteran’s Day, and I think it is appropriate, that said however I wish thanking a veteran, that percentage of society whose taken an oath to serve the rest of society by maintaining and securing the freedoms we all enjoy in America and around the world, whom had to look at themselves and decide the true value of their very own lives, were on the minds of more people on a daily basis.

Today, only 5.2% of the population of the United States are wartime veterans and only 1.7% are peacetime veterans[i]. That is a very small group of men and woman who’ve made such a sacrifice for the good of the whole of America and those in need around the globe.

Whether or not one agrees with another’s ideals, the fact that that person made a decision to fight for the lives and freedoms of the rest of society ought to be thought of in high regard and recognized by those whom enjoy the freedoms we all take advantage of.

If you see a veteran today or at any other time, please say thank you, it would only take a moment, and it mean the world to them…literally.

Thank you to all who’ve served and sacrificed and to the families of our men and woman serving today. The sacrifices you have made and continue to make do not go unanswered.