Sunday, May 29, 2011

Living Sacrifices

Growing up on Air Force bases for most of my pre-adult life, I watched my father leave many times. Often he would be gone before I awoke to go to school, not having a chance for a hug and "goodbye." Countless times he was gone for weeks, if not months, being on Alert duty or overseas duty in Guam, Phillipines, Thailand,  or Spain. Recently, I was on an hotel shuttle as a young captain said goodbye to his wife and son, heading out to the Middle East to serve for a while.

My brother joined the Navy and served on carriers for six-months at a time. Lately, he's also been land-based but overseas for many years, sometimes deployed in combat areas.

As a son and as a brother, I've worried and wondered about my father and brother many times. Hoping and praying for their safety and their crew or team members' safety, I was always tearfully ecstatic and thankful when they returned home. My anguish pales to what my mother and other service spouses endure, especially those spouses of the service men and women who are on the front lines.

My father missed a lot of memorable events in my life--some little league, some school awards, some first dances, etc. He sacrificed watching my brother and me grow up. Those moments have passed away, never to be experienced again. He and millions of other service personnel gave up time with families to do what our nation asked them to do.

This Memorial Day, besides remembering the fallen who paid the ultimate sacrifice never to enjoy cherished moments again, also remember their families who lost the chance to have them at birthday parties, weddings, christenings, and graduations. Ask a blessing over those families today who have reluctantly, proudly and with a hope-filled heart said "see you later" to family as they depart to serve someplace else. Those men and women of the Air Force, Army, Marines, Navy and Coast Guard--and all the Reserves and National Guard units--have sacrificed countless moments. Hardly any would want to be in a barracks, patrolling a desert, hunkered down in a missile silo, watching radar screens, showering in reclaimed sea water or doing whatever else duty asks of them. Almost all would rather be home, curled up on a couch with their spouse and children, watching TV, playing a game, or chatting about last night's ball game in the company lunchroom or shopping with friends for the elusive mega-deal, or grilling dogs, burgers and brats this holiday weekend. All of their families would rather have them home also. The men and women of the Armed Forces and their families are living sacrifices, worthy of honor and a salute.

The families don't wear uniforms; they're harder to spot. They are just as deserving of compassion and respect.

Thank you to the veterans and currently serving men and women...and your families! We will remember your sacrifices too.

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