"The willingness of America's veterans to sacrifice for our country has earned them our lasting gratitude." --Jeff Miller
For some, it's more of a season. A season of life when we are transformed, renewed, refined or restored. For some, it's college. A time of finding ourselves and determining our life's course. For others, it's marriage. That incredible journey that is both exciting and scary, wonderful and not. For many, it's becoming a parent. The moment a woman feels the incredible stirring of life inside her womb, the second a father hears his child's first cry, the moment the nurse lays that miraculous gift into your arms, many of us are changed beyond recognition.
But for a small few, these life-altering moments are associated with voluntary experiences in life that completely change us and how we ultimately view the humanity around us. Sometimes the moment that most defines you is the time of your life that you'll have the hardest time explaining. Sometimes the moments in life that recreate us, are the moments we are least aware of the incredible changes. For instance, missionary work. A time when people put themselves and the comforts of their privileged lives aside to minister to those who are less fortunate. Specifically, in foreign lands. A time when your goal is the betterment of someone else's life and not of your own. A time when you shed the familiarities of your life, family and friends and embark upon a lonely but worthy journey. A time in your life when selfless acts become second nature and your perspective on necessity is forever changed. A moment in this life when you begin to understand sacrifice and God's love in ways your never imagined.
For me, my moment, my season, my time, was sending my young husband, not once, but twice to war. I was changed. I was forever altered. My ability to see life in the way I had viewed it before was gone. I will never forget the feelings I had. The emotions I experienced. The fears I faced. The victories I saw. I will never be able to fully explain how those years transformed me because I don't remember the girl that existed before. You see, I was forever changed because I saw extraordinary things. I saw the bravery and heroism that we read about in history books. I saw the sadness and loss of life that Hollywood attempts to capture on the big screen. I saw the sacrifices and selfless acts that preachers speak of and encourage. I saw evil. I saw goodness. I saw fear. I saw courage. I saw death. I saw life. I saw bondage. And I saw freedom. I witnessed the very best of this generation and came face to face with the reality of the very worst. And because of what I saw and because of what I learned, there is no turning back for me. There is no revisiting the clueless, content person I once was. There is no turning a blind eye to the revealed knowledge that found its way into my life as I walked through war on the home front.
And my patriotic transformation pales in comparison to the life-changing alterations of our precious American Veterans. You see, when you answer your nation's call to duty, you are putting yourself aside. You are placing the lives and freedoms of others before your own. You are announcing to a distracted, materialistic nation, that you love them enough to protect them and respect them enough to defend them. A veteran loves you without knowing you, serves you without expecting gratitude, protects you without thought of their own personal safety or security. They do what 99% of Americans will never do and what a vast majority will never adequately appreciate. And because of what they do, because of what they face, because of what they see, they are forever changed. They are no longer the laxidasical American citizens who may or may not place their hand over their heart during the Pledge of Allegiance. They are no longer the young people who may or may not stop whatever they are doing and face the flag when our Anthem is played. They are no longer able to take our awesome national freedoms for granted because they have been on the battlefront of protecting them. They no longer see you or me or the high-minded college war protestor or out-of-touch politician as just insignificant nobodies. No, they see each American as worthy of their willing sacrifice. They see each American as valuable and have proven that they are willing to protect each of us through their voluntary military service.
So, today on Veteran's Day, thank a hero. Not because you have to, but because you want to. Thank him or her for their service to you. Thank them for their willingness to sacrifice for you. Thank them for being forever changed because they decided to love, defend and protect you.
Happy Veteran's Day!!