Had you asked me 22 years ago, the day after Pete and I had our first date, what Veteran's Day meant to me, I would have told you that it was pretty neat to have a day off of school. Today, all that has changed. I "get it" now.
I have seen, though skewed by interpretation, through the eyes of my husband into foreign lands where freedoom is something that most people feel they'll never have. I have listened to countless stories of captured soldiers who fully throw themselves into captivity because the treatment they will receive from our military is far better than the "care" they receive from their own government and their military superiors. I have wept with my husband as he recounts how truly awful the political conditions of other countries are for their citizens. I have seen both the relief and confused anxiety on his face as he returns to this free land to enjoy liberties that he has seen so brutally taken away from those he fought to liberate. I have also wept with him silently as he listens to people who have degraded and devalued the mission he supported and watched several of his peers give their lives in support of. I have shared the pain and unadulterated rage as he watched people turn military funerals into political venues and dishonor warriors whose families only want to say goodbye in peace. SHAME ON YOU, America, for making ANY of our nation's brave warriors feel as though their missions are not important. You haven't seen what they see.
If you don't appreciate your freedoms as an American citizen, try living in one of the coutnries that our servicemembers are fighting in right now. Try giving up all of your luxuries in exchange for a cramped, uncomfortable living space shared with sixty other people in a foreign land in which those "archaic" living conditions (complete with running water, internet access and cable TV) are still worlds richer than those of the locals you live near. Would you begin to feel that stirring of pride upon seeing the stars and stripes waving in the tranquil breeze when you returned?
My husband came home from "his" war. I hope and pray that my son does as well. I hope and pray that my son-in-law never has to face the atrocities of war, but I know that at some point in his military career, he likely will. It is never an easy or pleasant task to face the separation of war, but it's far more unpleasant to consider where our nation would be if we never had anyone who believed in the value of our freedom and the virtue of liberty enough to pledge their lives to defending it.
This wife of a retired soldier, mom of a deployed soldier, daughter and daughter-in-law of Vietnam veterans, granddaughter of WWII veterans, and proud American citizen salutes those who have served. With great honor and respect, when that flag passes in review, I will stand with my right hand firmly placed across my heart. I know it is only because of the bravery and patriotism of those who have worn the uniforms of our country's military that I have the right to STAND.