November 11, 2010

On Veteran's Day

Some words fall short of capturing the true depth of the ideals behind them.

One of these words is love.

Another is honor.

Freedom. Commitment. Sacrifice.

These words describe our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Guardsmen, and yet they barely touch upon the truth of just how deeply our service men and women love their country, honor it with their lives, appreciate the hard-fought freedom, are committed to defending America, and sacrifice in the name of it all.

I was raised in a family that strongly values our military. One of my earliest memories is of attending a Support Our Troops rally during the Gulf War. The adults held up pieces of paper that, when viewed from above, created an American flag.

I never really knew what it meant to serve, though, until my teenage brother enlisted in the Army as an Infantry soldier in 2006. Since then, he has served 14 months in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and he is currently halfway through a deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Eduring Freedom. My brother has spent 3 of the last 4 Veteran's Days deployed.

To learn of the anguish of war firsthand from my brave younger brother, to witness his intense pain and pride, has been a defining facet of my life. I may never know what it is like to be the one who defends our country, but I know what it is like to comfort and care for the ones who do.

My brother returned home safely from Iraq, and I have faith he will return safely from Afghanistan, but many of his battle buddies have not.

I will never forget their names. I will never forget their faces. And I will never have the honor of meeting them.

I cannot tell you how this saddens me, nor could I ever express how these fine men swell my heart with pride. I can no longer hear the National Anthem without tears springing to my eyes. I see the Flag, and I see not fabric and stars, but strength, poignancy, and unwavering dedication.

So on Veteran's Day and every day, THANK YOU!

Thank you for honoring, protecting, and defending our country. Thank you for giving up your freedom for ours, your lives for ours, your bodies and minds for ours. Nothing we could say or do will ever be enough, and it is easy to believe you have been forgotten, but please know that your sacrifices will be carried in our hearts forever.

We mourn with you. We rejoice with you. And you will never be forgotten.

Please, thank a veteran today. And while you're at it, thank their family members, too. In our own way, we serve right along with them.

Adapted from a Facebook note I wrote Veteran's Day 2009.


Jen Daiker said...

I found your blog on the perfect day! Happy Veterans Day!!!

I'm a new follower *waves* nice to meet you!

Angela Felsted said...

Thank you for the inspirational thoughts.

Pam Harris said...

Beautiful post. :)

Rachel Bateman said...

Well said, Abby. What a great post.

Abby Stevens said...

Thanks so much, you guys. ;)

And hi Jen! Welcome!

KO said...

I just saw this today-- i missed it on the day. Really lovely to see your photos and read your post.

Thank your brother from all of us.

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