Friday, November 11, 2011

Hand on my Heart for Veterans

"Mella" and Ray Huntley, early 1960s
I am from a proud family of servicemen.  My dad and his 8 brothers all were members of the Armed Forces, 8 Navy men and one proud Marine. They fought in World War 2, the Korean Conflict and Vietnam.  I have been to more military funerals than civilian ones.  I was born patriotic.

I still put my hand on my heart when I say the Pledge of Allegiance or when the National Anthems plays, even at ball games.  I notice that quite often, there are very few people around me who have their hand on their heart or sing along to our National Anthem.  I do not judge them.

You see, I'm a student of history.  If nothing else, one thing has been imprinted on my mind through this course of study:  War is a part of history and likely will always continue to be a part.  War is the way in which nations break apart, form, and stay strong; war provides both revolution and resolution.   The United States is no exception.  Not all our fights have been proud ones but those who serve do not make such decisions.  I hate the necessity of war and I love the warriors.
Great Uncle "Pat" Huntley - WW 1

The men and women of our Armed Forces usually sign on when they are barely old enough to vote and too young to drink.  The veterans of our wars are rarely politicians or even people of influence.  They are the boys and girls who lived on my street and yours; they are the kids I played in the park with, the cousins I admired, and the Dad and Uncles I adored.

I am grateful for those who have the fortitude to fight for the democratic ideal; for those who risk life and limb to preserve my way of life and more importantly, my liberty.  I know that many of you have suffered terrible consequences for your service; you have lost lovers or limbs; sacrificed your long term health, or given your lives.  This is a steep price to pay and I want you to know, it was not wasted on me.

This morning I rose early and hung out my flag.  All day today as I go about my ordinary life and you go about yours, please know I am thinking of you, and I thank you.  I am grateful every day for your gift of service to me and my family.  I know that freedom isn't free and I thank you for paying my toll.  God bless you.

[PS - If you want to get to the heart of the Pledge of Allegiance, click my link in the second paragraph for a timeless essay from the old comedian, Red Skelton.]

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