I find that I feel differently on a day such as this. Veterans Day and Independence Day both put me in a mood which is not so depressed as it is reflective and contemplative. Maybe somber is the best word for it. Honestly, I struggle to even put my feelings into words - yes. I, of all people, have trouble expressing the gratitude that fills my heart on these days. I know! Long-winded writer that I am, I just can’t do it.
If you don’t know already, I am a military historian. My research has always centered on Colonial and Revolutionary America. That’s changed me – you can’t read first-hand accounts of all of the wars our nation has been through and come out of that the same person. Years ago, I would simply give Veterans Day a passing glance on the calendar, and the Fourth of July was always about time off work and fireworks. I’ll admit it. I mean, I was patriotic - don’t get me wrong, but I just didn’t get it on a deeper level. This was also at a time that I didn’t actually know any military veterans personally, I had not experienced life on a military installation, and I certainly hadn’t dedicated years (literally) to studying the military and the foundation of our country. Days like today mean something else to me now.
I have been blessed with many servicemen and women in my life. My brother and sister-in-law are both active duty soldiers. Other dear friends have committed themselves at one point or another to the service of our country. I cannot even put words to my gratitude for their sacrifice, so I’ll just end with a final comment, rather than ramble endlessly:
Thomas Jefferson and the committee commissioned to write the Declaration of Independence wrote back in 1776: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Whether trudging through the snow at Trenton or braving the camel spiders and sand of the Middle East, whether operating a river boat or an unmanned aerial vehicle, whether sacrificing their lives or their family time, our servicemen and women past and present are the reason we are free today.
Thank you for your service. God bless you. God bless America.