11 November, 2011

More than Rhetoric

Today is Veterans Day. There are many of us who don't think twice about the freedoms we take for granted. Many will wave a flag, stand during the 7th inning stretch and never understand (or care) why.

I remember last year D and I just happened to be downtown for the Veterans Day parade. We wandered down the street watching cars go by, floats, and the occasional CAP outfit. I had never really thought about this day, it was for wars fought long ago, a Great War already forgotten. But was is it today?

This town has one of the biggest military concentrations in the U.S., until I came back from DC I didn't realize that. I also didn't really know anyone minus a few guys from college, and a few retired Army men, who was in the military. We were not a military family.

Now things are different. A dear friend's husband is in Afghanistan, someone close to me was in Iraq for a year, I have listened to wives of service men share what their lives are like. I am dating a vet.

I have also lived in a country where freedom was not guaranteed. There is a lot you cannot say or do in Rwanda. Freedom of speech, to protest, to debate, to assemble, to live without fear did not exist. The police ruled and people just simply disappeared. You could not criticize the president - nuh uh!

Our freedom is not guaranteed. The freedom we have to say what we want, to criticize our government, to call for change, to write what we can - came at a price, and it is not guaranteed. Maybe if that reality set in we would be more supportive of those who fight daily (in the US and abroad) to keep those freedoms in place.

Support Our Troops - what does that mean?

There is a commercial that plays in my head - a member of the military walks through the airport, unnoticed, just another person. The someone starts to applaud them. They stand and actively thank the person for their service. Then another. And another. Soon applause has filled the terminal and, for a moment, the military member is recognized.

People who choose to serve don't do it for the attention, they do it for a calling. And they don't serve alone. Their families, friends and communities should serve with them. The military wife is one of the hardest roles in our country. Being with D has allowed me to see the immense pride and responsibility many in our military hold to their positions. To them, the ceremony that many of us just do holds great importance.

I think it's time that we started looking at the people in the military and stopped seeing them as a mass - they are individual people, not to be used for political gain or to be discriminated against. There is respect to be held in their position. Just as we should uphold police, firemen, teachers, etc. to a higher calling, so should we thank our service men and women for making our daily life possible.

Thank you D for what you did for our country. Thank you for serving, for being a servant, for showing me what being a member of the military truly means. I am indebted to you.

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© Amanda Lunday