Friday, November 11, 2011

11/11/11

1st Lt Dan Rector and his sons before he deployed to Iraq


My nemesis, Renee, just asked why I didn’t have a blog post about Veterans Day. My initial response to her was that I knew my limitations and didn’t feel capable of capturing such a BIG story with my silly sensibilities. I was afraid my sarcastic tone and self-effacing style would come across as disrespectful and that my take on the topic would be inconsequential.  So I decided to do the right thing and keep my mouth shut.

 But as I was gearing up for a rare mid-morning bike ride, courtesy of a day off in honor of the holiday, I started to feel guilty.  How could I enjoy the day knowing so many have sacrificed their lives and livelihoods in order for me to do so, without at least acknowledging their service?  

So here I sit, struggling to come up with the words to convey what their bravery has meant to me - feeling foolish even using the word “struggle”  - like it’s a real freakin’ hardship for me to be sitting safely in my warm(ish) kitchen typing on my expensive laptop while sipping some hot tea, and just now taking a break to talk to my mother on the phone. Our servicemen and women would love for the opportunity to do such simple, everyday things, and here I am whining about how "hard" it is for me to thank them?  How messed up is that?

I try to convince myself that living the good life and enjoying every day is the best way to show my appreciation for the sacrifices of others. But deep down, I know it’s the lazy way. Reflecting on their courage while blithely going about my business doesn’t do much but make me feel better. But what about them?  Even at my most sincere, my selfish inclination would be to talk about how much their actions have meant to me. But what about them? Is it even possible to show such gratitude? Can anyone really pay them back for what they’ve given up?

It’s such a daunting task, I can’t even begin to think about it. Throwing money at the problem seems like the easy way out – but even if I had the money, how much would make up for a lost leg, damaged mind, or missing time with a loved one?  A million dollars? Two? And even then, no amount is ever going to bring any of it back. 

So what can I do? I like to think I do what I can by flying flags in their honor, participating in moments of silence, nodding gratefully at them in airports, clapping for them at parades, crying at the sad news, getting angry and the bad, and cheering for the good, but I know it’s not nearly enough. I can tie a yellow ribbon around every oak tree I see and it would still only be a token gesture. A pitiful way to make me feel better about not being one of the brave ones. 

But for what it’s worth, I offer my simple and heart-felt thank you. Thank you for doing the things I don’t even like to read about. Thank you for enduring things I don’t want to hear about. And thank you for giving up the things I never want to go without.



And Renee, screw you for making me do this!!!

3 comments:

  1. this is so excellent. written on the fly but a great product delivered. i'm still finding it difficult to articulate my appreciation for all the men & women & their families who have made this tremendous sacrifice, all the while we "struggle" to maintain our comfortable standard of living.

    In my home like many others we have dealt with serious trauma and challenges, but I hope & pray I will never be in a position where my children will say "i want to serve" or even worse are compelled to do so.

    I will not let my son wear any fatiques of any sort as a means of fashion. I groan and ache when he comes across a play gun at a friends house. He once received a GI Joe type toy and we told him that it was oranges & apples where there were faux hand grenades.

    Thank you so very much to everyone that has made this difficult choice. As a mother especially (even being one that has worn combat boots for fun) I would only know your hurt if I were to face the deploy of my girl or boy.

    lots of love to all.

    ReplyDelete
  2. 3 Vets, 1 car

    This morning my mother, husband and I went out for a drive and saw a neighborhood where every house had a small flag in the front corner or their yard. It was a small yet beautiful gesture that we appreciated. You'd be surprised at how much those claps, nods, and little thank yous mean to those of us who served.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I generally shake my head at how people are so obsessed with technology. But comparing my grandfather's experience in WWII (or even my uncle's in Vietnam) - no one knew if he was dead or alive on any given day - to the current soldier's, I'm grateful for it. It provides some connection, anyway.

    And yes, we can only hope that our words mean what we want them to mean. As yours do. :)
    erica

    ReplyDelete