Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Take A Moment

The Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington Nationa...Image by J.H.Gray via Flickr Today is Veteran’s Day. For most parents, this means a day off of work, no school for our kids and for the lucky ones, the tail end of a four-day weekend. Before you motor over to the park with your children or meet a friend for a matinee, give some thought to why you are able to enjoy these wonderful freedoms that we Americans have. Freedoms that look so tantalizing from outside our borders, that more than 20 million illegal immigrants have crossed over them to relish the American way of life, too.

Veteran’s Day is the day to commemorate all those brave soldiers – living and dead -- who have put themselves in the line of fire for us, in every war in America’s history. I come from a long line of warriors, a bloodline which really came in handy during my tumultuous 10-year marriage. (I can laugh about that now!) My great grandfather, an Oneida Indian, fought as a conscript in the Civil War and returned home crippled.

My paternal grandfather is one of the last surviving members of the Lost Battalion, a group of about 547 soldiers who were trapped in the Argonne Forest by German forces and were being slaughtered. When the US forces finally arrived, less than 200 men were left of the 77th division. My grandfather was one of them. He was eventually awarded a purple heart and when he died a natural death many years later, he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, not too far from the gravesite of President Kennedy.

My own father was an Air Force pilot and navigator who fought in the Korean and Vietnam wars. He flew 18 tours of duty, which included 663 missions. He was awarded three Distinguished Flying Crosses and 18 air medals.

We were lucky – my relatives returned from their wars alive. And I am so grateful for that. Yet so many of our soldiers die on the battlefield, their families never to see them again, just so people they didn’t even know can sleep peacefully at night under the banner of freedom.

Today, take a moment to say “Thank you” to all the sons and daughters who have willingly fought for our country. We owe them our lives.

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