Today I am thinking about a lot of things. First and foremost, I am thinking of my dad, my uncles and my grandfathers. The list is long. All of them served their country through military service and did so, I believe, well and proudly. One of my earliest childhood memories of a photo is a picture of my Grandpa Matthews dressed in his World War I uniform. And when my dad passed away, I got his military memorabilia, including a certificate from the US Navy acknowledging his presence at the Bikini Atoll atomic test in World War II. Though he did not know it at the time, his presence at that event likely rendered him unable to father a child (as apparently so many others experienced after the tests when they returned home), and thus he came to be my dad when I was adopted. War not only exacts a terrible price on those who suffer visible injuries, it can also leave a life of internal scars that few are ever privy to, scars that will not heal no matter what.
Of course, I also especially think on this day of Renee, my cousin down in Tallahassee who lost her eldest son, Anthony, in Afghanistan last year. I know she will carry the pain of a mother’s loss with her for the rest of her natural days. No parent should outlive their child, but especially not by losing them to an enemy’s hand. And I am reminded of all the loved ones who have sat at home with knitted brow and worried soul, anxiously awaiting their dear loved one’s safe return – and the agony of those who never see that day. God bless them all.
There are some who think it is inconsistent, or at least hypocritical, to pray and work for peace while also supporting the military. I do not. We would be blind to history and to human nature if we fail to acknowledge that there are those who simply will not choose to live in peace with their fellow human beings. The reasons are myriad, but it would be naive, I think, to assume that it will ever be possible for all of the world to avoid conflict entirely. The price willingly paid by so many who served, and continue to serve, our country to defend our freedoms demands, I think, our respect, even if we disagree with how they got there.
For any of you who read this who are veterans, thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. I hope you know how much you are appreciated.