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Happy Memorial Day?

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Yesterday was Memorial Day. And while I certainly enjoyed my time with family and friends who were enjoying a three day weekend, I spent a lot of time yesterday thinking about what this day is really about.

I heard numerous times on television the phrase ” Happy Memorial Day!” I read the same sentiments across multiple social media forums, online newspapers, and even on radio ads. And every time I heard it it made me really stop and think.

Is this day really happy?

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I don’t really think so. I think this day is a bit of a conundrum (and I think a lot of people misunderstand what this day is really “celebrating”). For me, Memorial Day isn’t as much about a celebration, though we do spend the weekend at the lake eating good food and taking boat rides, as it is about pausing to remember the more than 600,000 soldiers who have given their lives serving this nation. Sacrificed their existence so we are safe and free to continue ours.

When I think about the families of those we are honoring on this day, my heart explodes with compassion and gratitude. For many forget that those left behind continue to pay the price of their soldier’s sacrifice everyday. They must continue to “soldier on” in the face of grief, sorrow, anger, resent, hopelessness and fear everyday.

So while yes, I did indeed have a happy weekend, I never stopped remembering why yesterday was such an important day.

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And with that, I say one final thing;

Thank you to every soldier who sacrificed their life so that I could continue to live mine freely. Thank you to every soldier who never made it home. Thank you to every soldier whose family is one member less. And thank you to the families of those who fell, for your sacrifice is worth the same gratitude.

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We Should All Be Thankful for Our Veterans

I probably don’t say thank you to our veterans enough.  None of us do.  To many, just saying thank you probably seems so empty.  It feels like it has lost some of it’s meaning.  It can come off as hollow.  “oh, you’re a veteran?  Thank you for your service.”  It seems like such an automatic response.

I read an article recently, which I want to link to but can’t seem to find, by a veteran who said he wishes people would stop thanking him.  For all the reasons I mentioned above.  At first, I was really irritated by the article.  Especially because my brother is currently deployed.  My sister in law served in Iraq.  My father was in the Air Force.  My grandfather fought with the Navy in WWII.  My uncles went throught Vietnam.  I have had cousins in the Air Force, the Navy and the Coast Guard.  Members of my family have served in every branch of the United States military.  But as I read through his points, I understood what he was getting at.  He didn’t want someone to thank him because they felt obligated to.  And that makes sense.  But I fundamentally disagree with him.

We should not stop saying thank you.  What we should do is start meaning it again.  I always try to say thank you to someone who has served or is currently serving.  Because I truly mean it when I say “thank you for your service.”  What I’m really saying is, “thank you for protecting me.”

Because that’s truly what our men and women who serve are doing.  They are protecting us.  From dangers seen and unseen.  Known and unkown.  They are voluntarily giving up time with their families to ensure that I have the safety to spend time with mine.

And I’m a complete stranger to most of them.

That’s why I think it’s important to say thank you.  Because we are all strangers.  Yet they serve for us.  Because of them, I know I don’t have to fight.

And for that, I am eternally thankful.

A Decade Later

Where were you when…

That’s the question today, isn’t it?

I remember with vivid detail that day. For starters, it was beautiful. Sunny, blue sky. I was a freshman at the University of Central Oklahoma. I was driving to my first class of the day – Music Theory.

I remember wishing my radio in the car worked because the 25 minute drive was sort of boring and I usually listened to NPR. I’m a geek, what can I say.

When I arrived at class, the room was unusually empty. I walked back into the hallway to check for a missed announcement about class being cancelled. One of my class mates saw me and said “we’re in here.” She was talking about the room next door – it had a tv. She told me an airplane had hit one of the towers in New York.

As we stood in that room, watching history unfold before our eyes, we all gasped in collective shock and horror as we saw a second plane crash into the other tower. I remember tears starting to form in my eyes.

My classes were cancelled and all I could do was cry. I felt numb. I kept thinking “why would someone do such a thing?” “WHO would do such a terrible thing?”

Now, a decade later, I think the question should be “where are we NOW….

Are we safer as a nation? More united as a whole? Are we less? The same?

My hope, for our nation, is that we never forget that hatred lives. But I hope we remember, too, that love, peace and kindness DO triumph. That goodness prevails over evil. That lightness drives out darkness.

I hope ordinary citizens continue to be heroes for their families, friends and neighbors. That the lives lost and the sacrifices made live on in each of us.

That we continue to heal. We pause to remember, look back. But that as we do so, we remember to continue to look forward. Toward the future. Toward hope. Peace. Love. Kindness.

So, where were YOU when…. And where are you NOW?

09.11.2001/09.11.2011 never forgotten.

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Victory?

Victory: [vik-tuh-ree; vik-tree]; noun: a success or triumph over an enemy in battle or war.

I sit here writing with mixed emotions; trying to find the right mix of words that will so eloquently express my feelings.  But it’s hard to find those words – words that celebrate death.  Even the death of a such a  cruel and unarguably evil person.

In the words of Clarence Darrow “I’ve never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure.”

That’s sort of in line with how I feel; but not quite.  Death is a sad ordeal.  And while I’m not sad about his death, I am sad so many others have had to meet their deaths too soon because of him.

I really can’t help but feel a sense of overwhelming relief for the future safety of our wonderful planet.  I just can’t help but feel that our world is truly a much better place.

I understand why people were celebrating in the streets; it’s a sense of RELIEF!  FINALLY!  The man who gave the order to murder thousands of precious lives is gone.  He can never give that order again.

Again, I feel a sense of relief.  I feel a little bit safer.  And while I’m not so naive to believe that his death brings some sort of finality this whole thing – I know that things will get worse before they begin to get better- but, I know that things will get better!  Things will be safer.

My brother will be a little bit safer while he’s gone.  You’ll  be safer.

So, I say yes, this is indeed a victory.

Land of the Free, Because of the Brave

At 21 years old my brother is a war veteran.

My only baby brother is a WAR veteran. He’s my baby brother. And he’s the only brother I have. I have a gaggle of sisters. But just one brother. And when he was 19 years old I watched him ship off to fight a war on the other side of the Earth. I’m his big sister. I’m supposed to protect him. I’m supposed to keep him safe from harm. I make sure he holds my hand when we cross the street. And I teach him that under no circumstances should he ever EVER talk to strangers. And then I just watched him go. Fight a war.

Now, a mere two years later, I’m watching him make preparations to go fight the same stupid war. A lot has happened during those two years. First, when my only baby brother got home, he wasn’t just my baby brother. He was a grown up. He had seen things I will never even be able to imagine. Second, he became a Dad! And most recently he became a Husband. And now, I watch as he makes plans for his daughter and wife. Plans for them to be safe and provided for while he is on the other side of the planet.

Having said all that, my brother is my HERO. My brother is an American Soldier. He protects me. He keeps me safe from harm. He makes sure I’m holding his hand when we cross the street. And he makes sure that under no circumstances I ever EVER talk to strangers. He is among the bravest humans on Earth. He will travel anywhere on the planet that he is asked. He will fight an enemy to the death. He will put his life on the line defending you. And he has never even met you.

Because my only baby brother is an American Soldier.

My brother sacrifices time with his own family to ensure you have the freedom and privilege to spend time with yours. My brother puts himself in harms way to ensure that you don’t have to. My brother will risk his life for your freedom. And he has never even met you. Because my brother is an American Soldier. My only baby brother is my hero.

And my brother should be your hero, too.

Remember our Veterans. We owe them our Freedom.

November 11, 2010

*… In Dedication, Honor and Memory of the soldiers who are fighting, have fought and gave their lives for our great nation…* Thank You.