I’ve always felt very honored to have so many veterans in my immediate and extended family. My father was drafted to go to Vietnam. His orders were changed at the last minute and he was instead sent to Korea. He had cousins, uncles and great-uncles that also served. Our local American Legion Post is named after one of his family members.
My father-in-law was career military, making my husband an “army brat.” He moved countless times and lived all over the world. He saw his father complete multiple tours in the middle east. My brother-in-law briefly served and my husband would have had he not been diagnosed with type I diabetes at age 17.
I grew up in a small town culture that greatly respects veterans and the sacrifices that they and their families make. I grew up observing Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day with parades and ceremonies. I remember standing on the courthouse lawn as a child at the Veteran’s Day ceremony listening to speeches and covering my ears during the gun salute. I remember watching the adults wipe away tears during the speeches. Fast forward 30 some-odd years and I stand on that same courthouse lawn with my own children. They also cover their ears when the shots ring out and they ask me why the speeches make me cry.
Today I spent Memorial Day in the cemetary with my children. We visited the graves of my paternal grandparents, great grandparents, paternal uncle and great-uncle. We saw the American flags planted at the graves of veterans and the military plaques placed on the backs of their headstones. There were many. I explained things to my kids and let them ask questions. They are young – 10 and 5 – but we have to start somewhere. I know they don’t yet understand the importance and sheer selflessness of the sacrifices made by military past and present. They can’t. But they will. Teaching them respect and honor is vital.
So I would like to say thank you to all of our military – past, present, living, deceased, injured. I would like to say thank you to their families. It is not enough… not enough by far. Freedom comes at a high price and I will be forever in their debt.