"When our perils are past, shall our gratitude sleep?" -George Canning
Memorial Day. It's one of those days where people are moved to express gratitude, but in the wash of emotions words seem to fall flat on the enormity of deep emotions that the men and women of our military evoke. Pride, appreciation, admiration are all a small part of what we feel when we think of the service that has been rendered since the infancy of this country.
There are few places on earth where men and women will fight to the death to defend my right to burn the flag they fought to defend if I choose to. To allow me to give voice to criticism to the government that they answer to. To allow me vote as I wish for whomever I wish. To be a wacko right-wing liberal if I choose or a conservative, left wing nut. No, they are guided by the oath they took to protect the country and the constitution of the United States. That's it. Regardless of my race, religious beliefs or political affiliation.
These amazing people have spilled their blood so that I don't have to spill mine. They have stood on sand, snow, swamps and places too horrible to imagine. They have faced enemy fire in jungles, villages and lands far from home. They have held their fellow service men and women when they have died thousands of miles away from friends and family.
When I am in line at the airport and see one of these fine people boarding a plane, dressed in their camouflage fatigues, giving a long last hug to their family, I literally ache. The sacrifice being made isn't just on the battlefield, it's in the homes, families and hearts of those who serve us. You and me. The people who can "go about our business" unaware that somewhere far from their home is a man or a woman who is standing ready to put their life on the line for us. They don't know us, but they do know that it is their job to defend us only because of the provenance of our birth on United States soil.
"This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave." -Elmer Davis
How can you sum up the magnitude of the personal sacrifice that each of these men and women have made on all of our behalf? How can you tell someone who has faced the dirty, sweaty, bitter reality of battle how much what they have done means to you? How can you really say how much you appreciate their willingness to face sniper fire or an improvised explosive device? There literally aren't enough words in the English language to allow me to eloquently express the gratitude that swells in my heart for each of them.
To say it as best I can: To men the men and women of the United States Armed Forces past, present and future, a husband and father, thanks you for your willingness to assure that my grandchildren will enjoy the same freedoms that I have had. God bless you each and everyone.