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Memorial Day Thoughts

Story ID:3913
Written by:Nancy J. Kopp (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Manhattan KS USA
Year:2008
Person:Every American Military Person
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Memorial Day Thoughts

We have been at war with Iraq for five years plus and have had troops in Afghanistan longer than that. No matter what any of us believes about either conflict, whether for or against, it is imperative to keep one thing foremost in our mind. Forget the politics. Support our troops!

The men and women in our armed forces are not numbers in a newspaper article. Each one of them that deploys leaves behind mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers, spouses and children, and myriad friends. They are not numbers; they are people. They laugh, they cry, they love, they endure hardships, they work hard. They are human beings with all the emotions you and I experience. They sweat, they like to eat three times a day or more, they enjoy fellowship with others, they pray, they shake with fear more often than we’ll ever know. They are warm, living beings—not numbers in a newspaper account.

How often do we read that another brigade has deployed? Numbers? No, not numbers, that brigade is made of people who smile, who cry, who tell jokes, who treasure the photos they carry of loved ones. They have headaches and stomachaches like you and me. They get slivers in their fingers and bruises on arms and legs. They’re no less vulnerable to physical ailments than you or me, but they face dangers you and I have never dreamed of.

I live near an army post, so I see uniformed soldiers everywhere I go. They stop at the grocery store on their way home from work just like teachers and attorneys and librarians do. They pick up their children at soccer fields as a civilian mom or dad does. We are all very much alike, except for one thing. These soldiers, male and female, have volunteered to serve, to protect our country in foreign lands, to perhaps put their life in danger while doing so.

Have you ever thanked a soldier or marine or sailor? Maybe you’d feel uncomfortable walking up to a total stranger and saying, “Thanks for all you do for me and the rest of America every day.” What a great gift you could give to a military person if you could say that or something like it to them. Think about it the next time you see an American in uniform.

A couple years ago, my husband and I were returning from a visit to Europe. We were tired and anxious to get through customs when we landed. As we approached the area to present our passports, a door opened and an entire unit of uniformed soldiers filed through. They were returning from Iraq, an even longer flight than we’d had. We stopped and watched these fatigued young men and women as they walked by us. Some nodded and smiled, others stared straight ahead. Some I could barely see for the tears that had filled my eyes. I wanted so badly to say Welcome Home to them, but the lump in my throat didn’t allow it. The pride that encompassed me at that moment cannot be described. I was every soldier’s mother for just an instant.

And what about the ones who didn’t return to walk through that airport door? The ones who came home in a body bag or a wooden coffin My pride in them is every bit as strong along with a deep and abiding gratitude in what they gave for the rest of us. They sacrificed so that we can keep living in a free country. Yes, we Americans have many disagreements, but we are blessed in so many ways.

On this Memorial Day week-end, take time to say thank you to a military person. Say it in person or say it in your heart, but please say it.