Sunday is Veterans Day, a time to show gratitude for the people who fought or continue to fight for our freedom. Without them, who knows where we would be today?
Veterans Day is more than the local parade, more than American flags lining the streets, and it’s certainly more than a simple post on social media as a brief acknowledgment.
I come from a family full of veterans, each of whom are some of the toughest, yet most loving, people you will ever meet. My grandfather served in the Korean War and stared in the eyes the possibility of death on multiple occasions. My Uncle Joe served in the Air Force overseas for years away from his loved ones, and my great-grandfather served in a brutal World War II.
Aside from family, two men who had huge impacts on my life spent numerous years in the most selfless journeys anyone could choose to embark on.
Each of these people have impacted my life in ways I cannot explain; however, my gratitude runs much deeper than the relationships I have built with them over the years. I have heard and been hurt by their stories, while they remain strong in telling them.
I have listened to my grandfather’s dreams of horrible memories from the war, and I’ve had emotional conversations about each of these veterans’ brushes with death or the losses of close friends while serving.
As Americans, we spend our entire lives discussing those who “fight for our freedom,” but we undermine the fact that they literally fight for us. All the while, we sit on our couches watching the World Series or Sunday Night Football on our high definition televisions talking about how proud we are to be Americans.
We are too proud. We are forgetting how we got where we are today. We have forgotten everything this country has to fight for.
We are able to watch the Dodgers and Red Sox face off in game five because we are free, but baseball shouldn’t be what makes us proud to be Americans. We do not maintain freedom by watching sports, listening to rock ‘n’ roll or shooting off fireworks on the Fourth of July. In fact, most of us make no contributions to our own freedom.
We wear whatever we want, say whatever we want and worship whomever we want because we are free. But we are free at the expense of others – and from their unconditional love and loyalty.
The violence, the brutality and the danger that men and women face as they serve are unparalleled. As a granddaughter, a niece and a friend to multiple veterans, I believe what these men and women have seen is our worst nightmare.
During this season of gratitude, I encourage you to go to the local parade, take pictures of the American flags lining the neighborhood and even make that social media post thanking veterans for their service, but this time, remember why we celebrate their lives.