Monday, November 11, 2013

Thank you veterans

In the 1940s, we read about how much World War II affected people.

Their food was rationed, and so was rubber. Men were drafted and women took care of the home front or volunteered in factories to make up for their absences.

I can’t imagine living during war time. Oh wait, I do.

I don’t really understand why the war against terror doesn’t seem like as big of a deal as when you look back on other wars in the past century. Maybe it’s that there isn’t a draft going right now, so all the people serving have volunteered for the positions. Maybe it’s because the money is coming from the government instead of the American people having to give up anything to help the fight.

I have seen a brother-in-law, cousin-in-law and a couple of acquaintances be deployed, and thankfully, come back again safely. And although the time they were gone included prayers for them, I can’t say that it affected me much, if at all.

I almost wish that we were forced to sacrifice more here at home. It seems like the people in the military and their families are the only ones giving to the cause of our freedom, and that just doesn’t seem fair. If our country is in a war, shouldn’t we all be involved in some way? I mean, they are fighting for us for goodness sake.

We set aside this day of the year to say thank you to our veterans. We feature them in newspapers and on TV news programs. We interview them on radio shows.

Then tomorrow, they go back to regular life. Some of them dealing with the after effects of going to war feel forgotten, and often our veterans are.

I don’t really have any answers about what to do about this. When I see someone in uniform, I try to make an effort to go over and thank them for their service, just so they know that after Veterans Day their work is still appreciated.

Or if you know someone who has been deployed, or has served in one of our previous wars, maybe all you need to do is listen.

My grandpa served in the Korean War, an experience that was truly awful for him. Through the years I have heard several stories from that time, and I once asked him if he would sit down and tell them to me, but he refused. He just couldn’t deal with bringing those memories up.

However, he still talks about them sometimes. When he needs to get something off his chest, he will slip in another story about his war experiences.

And we just try to listen. It’s obvious that time still affects him, but we can’t go back and fix anything for him. All we can do is listen.

That’s what we can do for all our soldiers and veterans. Because when we listen, it shows that we care and that they matter and their experiences matter. Even if they don’t often talk about it, they will never forget what happened when they served. And it’s important that we don’t try to make it seem like it didn’t happen.

So although this is a small gesture, I want to say thank you. Thank you to my grandpa, my brother-in-law, my cousin, my friends and all the many strangers around the world who have fought and are even now fighting for my freedom.

They’re giving me the freedom to write this, to post my opinions on my blog, to go to church, to have the beautiful American life that I am accustomed to.

You are brave, courageous, selfless, generous, wonderful people. Even if we don’t say it enough, you are all appreciated.

These two little words have big meaning — thank you.

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