They were young and full of life, with the hope of nearly endless tomorrows. They were brave. They acted quickly, and without complaint. They knew what they needed to accomplish, and they did so without a thought to their own personal comfort and safety. They would perform countless acts of heroism, sometimes in the process losing limbs, vision, hearing…..sometimes losing far more. They are our Veterans, and today we honor them.
My father-in-law told us of an emotional exchange held today at church, when the Pastor asked those who were Veterans to please stand so that the congregation could honor them. One of his long-time friends couldn’t bear to stand and receive this recognition. When asked why, he reasoned that although he didn’t have the heart to stand today, he WILL stand when he can do so with all those who didn’t come home.
What exactly is woven into the fabric of the bonds that these young people have held through the years? Bonds that keep one’s fallen friends alive in memory with such clarity, it’s as if they were taken away only yesterday. Courage, certainly. Teamwork….the effort of coming together to accomplish a goal. I think there are also the emotional ties that bind. The feeling of belonging to something that is larger than life. The feeling that what you are doing will make life better for someone else.
When our youngest son made the decision this Summer to join the Navy, my husband sat him down and told him that this career will not make him rich in a monetary way. In order to receive wealth from this way of life, he must reach inside himself and find the emotional benefit from serving something much bigger than himself. The solemn pride of giving back to a country that has made him what he is today.
My husband knows of what he speaks. For 20 years he served this great nation. He earned many awards, including a safety award for safely bringing under control a malfunctioning liquid oxygen hose, without injury to himself or anyone else. Had he not stepped in to action, he would have been killed, along with those who were nearby. He retired with many accolades and commendations, all of which he is too shy to really take credit for. I am just privileged he would let me be his voice.
His reaction is what I think may be the strongest thread in the fabric of the ties that bind all these wonderful, brave, talented young men and women through all these generations. That would be to say, “I was just doing what I was supposed to do”.