I feel like a total loser but I’m just now getting around to thinking about the meaning of the 4th of July. Unfortunately like a lot of things lately it got put on “TUIT” list. You know, the Get Around To It List. I didn’t decorate this year, I didn’t buy the matching Old Navy t-shirts, I didn’t make the Jello Flag. I felt guilty not making more of the day but it was just another day.
Until I read Carlos Whittaker’s blog about his 4th of July. He was in the same hotel with troops who just landed after spending 18 months serving in Afghanistan. 18 months separated from friends, family, and the comforts of home. 18 months in harms way. You can read the blog in full here http://www.ragamuffinsoul.com/2011/07/july4/. The thing that touched my heart the most was the young woman who talked to Carlos afterwards thanking him for not forgetting what they had done to serve their country.
This afternoon I’m driving to my hometown of Springfield, MO to celebrate with my friend, Heather Brown McNeil, the return of her husband from Afghanistan. Don McNeil has served THREE tours of duties this time around. I’m ashamed to say I had forgotten this. It was only after our good friend Kenny gently reminded me after I had been whining on Facebook about single parenting for 12 days that Heather had been single parenting for months on end.
I struggle with my thoughts on the military. I appreciate the sacrifice of the men and women. I can’t begin to imagine my life with out all the freedoms I have been afforded just simply from my citizenship. But it just seems so unfair. It’s unfair that we have to have a military. It’s unfair they have to be away from their friends and families. It’s unfair that most soldiers do not complete the higher education promised to them. It’s unfair the high amount of veterans returning to homelessness. I love how my sons are enamored with men in uniform and it takes very little prompting to get them to tell a soldier “thank you for serving” when we see them in airports and the like. But I don’t want the honor of my sons serving their country. I don’t want that burden.
But I also don’t want to forget all the generations of American men and women who have ensured the fact that I can have that freedom. I don’t want to forget the men and women who have given their lives so my sons can have choices. I don’t want to look away from the men and women who survived this war but have to live with lifelong injuries and lost limbs.
I’ve come to no resolution other than one of thankfulness. I pray this war will end soon and the next one is a long time coming. I hope I remember to pray for world peace. I hope my heart and mind do not forget this time all that I have been given by these soldiers. I hope I don’t limit the meaning of the 4th of July to matching Old Navy t-shirts.