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Catastrophic Success

As if there weren't enough political opinionating out there, I, too, now sing the body bloglectric. Let me FEED you![XML]

Location: United States

Monday, December 13, 2004

Tanks for everything, guys and gals

I posted this as a comment to this post by The Diplomad regarding their experiences with the stalwart young Marine Security Guards who stand watch over our embassies and protect our Foreign Service Personnel. Their tribute touched me to tears and I wanted to thank those Marines in my own way, but all of our armed forces deserve these thanks and praise. Their service is a gift to the undeserving, a payment in advance for the promise of living our lives to the best of our ability.

Thank you Diplomad. The tears stream down my face now, thanks to your love for these brave men and women who guard our shores, our embassies, our freedom. Would that all of America could see the love these "poor, simple" warriors have for their country and their countrymen. They do not do this for the pay (how could they?), they do not do this for the glory (they won't accept it), they do not do this for bloodlust (they hate death too), they do this for love: love of their family, love of their freedom, love of their country and love of their corps. Their daily sacrifice shames me for not giving 100% of everything I have into everything I do. I dishonor their sacrifice with every moment of wasteful slack. I may or may not be worthy of their tireless effort, but it doesn't matter to them. People may or may not appreciate their willing sacrifice, but that doesn't matter to them either. They do their job because they have chosen to dedicate their lives, and sometimes lay down that life, in the ultimate service to their nation and their people. These men and women are the exemplar of all that it means to be an American. May they always feel the joy and the pride that we owe them, that many of us feel for them and never feel the want of it from those who do not understand the magnitude of the duty they gladly accept every minute of every day.

I have family in the armed forces (mostly Army and Navy). In fact, my cousin's husband just returned from heavy fighting in Iraq. My brother is in the Navy. I am astounded every time I am around these people at the simple confidence they exude in every facet of their military life. I know they wish their personal lives could be as ordered as their "work" life, but Uncle Sam's reach only extends so far (thankfully). I considered joining the military (the Marines if I had qualified) after high school. I didn't. I didn't believe I would be a good fit in a military that expects conformity and is unkind to non-conformity. Indeed, my mouth being faster than my brain at that time, I surely would have found myself in a great deal of trouble. In addition, I didn't trust the Commander-in-Chief or the Administration with my life (at least that's what I believe now, I may be projecting current feelings on the past though since I voted for Bill Clinton in '96, the year I graduated). At any rate, I wanted to express my thanks to our military, especially those who can not be at home with their families this Christmas or Hanukkah because they are putting their lives on the line to ensure that we can be concerned about burning the ham instead of watching another skyscraper burn against a blue sky.

I once saw a woman and a young boy sitting outside my local library as I was walking to put my nearly overdue items in the night drop since the library hadn't opened yet. They were patiently waiting for the librarians to unlock the doors and let them in. I admit I was rushed as I was almost late for work anyway, but I saw the Army uniform this woman was wearing, so sharply pressed and ready for inspection. The boy sat close to her, so I knew they belonged together, although I didn't know if he was her son or her brother. I stopped in my mad hurry, and looked her in the eye and said "Thank you." That was all. I wish I had said more. I wish I had asked her name, where she was headed, what her story was. But I can't blame my shortened schedule. I was just too dumbstruck and shy and, frankly, ashamed to say more. All I could squeak out was "Thank you." I looked at the boy too, to make sure he heard and understood. I wanted to ask him if he knew how important his mother or his sister's sacrifice meant to me. How much my family and I owed this women who chose to strain her family life to protect her family. But I couldn't. And I don't think I had to. She returned my gaze and thanked me! She thanked me for appreciating her. I don't deserve her thanks, but I hope she carries my gratitude with her into battle. It won't protect her, but I hope that my Thank You tips the scale in her mental balance toward her job being worth it, rather than thinking it thankless work for an ungrateful nation. At the very least, I hope it made her day brighter. I know it made mine.

Please, if you see a uniformed member of our military, tell them Thank You. Ask their name. Ask their story. Let them feel the love of a grateful nation and give them the knowledge that they don't fight in vain. We owe them so much more than that, but please, give them what you can. It costs you nothing, and it gives you so much.

Thank you.