Friday, November 10, 2006

taken for granted

Tomorrow is officially Veterans Day, a day when we are supposed to reflect on the men and women who, throughout the years, and in various conflicts, have served our country in its armed forces. A wonderful idea in theory. In practice, however, I get the feeling that the day set aside for remembering and honoring those soldiers and sailors is just another day set aside by the government on which we get no mail delivery.

I wish it wasn't so. And yet I am as guilty as anyone else in mostly ignoring the day. I, like many other Americans, simply take for granted that we will always have citizens willing to bear arms in our defense. War is the most despicable, outrageous invention of man, yet for whatever reasons that motivate them, there will always be those who are willing to go to war, to risk their lives in our behalf. It has always been so throughout our history, and I suspect it will always be so.

Of course, having said that, I must reflect on the fact that without those willing to serve, without those who have given their lives in service to our country, I would not be sitting here with the freedom to write these words. Without those willing citizens, the elections this past Tuesday would not have occurred. Without those soldiers protecting our national interests, we would be a society most likely different from what we now are. Without those men and women who courageously served in the most trying , frightening, awful wartime circumstances, and who gave their lives in that service, we would be in a society in which the freedoms we enjoy would be only a dream.

And while in the past I have largely ignored the parades, the cemetary wreath placings, the 21 gun salutes as mere pageantry, I think tomorrow I will take a moment to appreciate the slow moving, limping ex-soldiers who proudly parade down Main Street in uniforms from earlier times; to appreciate those who struggle with a life with lost limbs; to appreciate the families who cope daily with the loss to war of a father, brother, sister, husband, wife, child.

Tomorrow, at some point during my routine day, I will take the time to remove my hat, place my hand over my heart, face the Stars and Stripes waving on the staff in my front yard, and observe a moment of reverent silence and thanks for those who made it possible for me to fly my country's flag in my front yard. They are no longer taken for granted.

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