Monday, March 26, 2007

Thank you for your service

This slide show is very powerful. It is all too easy to think of what others do in terms of what we do. I eat regularly, and what I want. I shower in hot water and when it is hot I turn on the air conditioning. When someone cuts me off in traffic I'm mad because I don't want to be endangered. If someone needs help, I help if it isn't too much trouble or cost. These people eat what they get, when they get it. They sweat when it is hot. They'd love a time when the worst danger they faced was traffic like ours rather than IEDs. They train and fight, patrol and work every day in danger. Any mistake can mean injury or death for them or others, and many will have their mistakes published in the NY Times. How would I like that? They are the people who volunteered to go in harm's way, to protect me. To ensure my freedom. Now, with few exceptions, war will always be a controversial decision by leaders. Why are we fighting, what is the goal, how much will it cost, how many will perish? Those decisions and evaluations are made at higher pay grades than most of those who serve. But our servicemen and women go when told. They know that the leadership might be wrong, that a general or civilian might make an error. They know that politicians might change their minds about the fight. They know all these things but they go. And they go because it is their job. They go because they believe that the tradition of the armed forces is honorable and meaningful. They go because they are willing to do all that they can to honor those traditions. They go because whatever the ultimate historical evaluation of the policy that sent them to a particular war or battle, America needs them, and they have answered that call. They are ordinary people from all walks of life, but they are extraordinary people as well. They fight for their country, their family, their community, the American way of life. And I am grateful for them, and for all of the previous links in the long and unbroken chain of brave Americans, from the very birth of our nation forward. One of my ancestors served for years in the Continental Army, another in Vietnam. Though the ways, the nation, our beliefs and reasons for war - even our views of each battle and each war have changed over time, our servicemen and women answer the call in all seasons. And we are all, each of us, in their debt. I've made an effort in the last ten years or so to just make eye contact and nod, or if there is time an opportunity, to say 'thank you for your service', when I see men and women in uniform. I know it means something to them, and it costs me nothing. I hope that whatever people think of any particular battle or war, we remember these brave men and women who stand a post, saying no one will hurt you tonight. They serve and fight where they are sent, and they honor us with their service. Let's make them proud of the people they serve.

To see the slide show, please follow the link below:

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Sunshine on Discovery Bay

Sunshine on Discovery Bay
As always, the photos we use are either my own, or in the public domain. Please let me know if there are any errors and I'll correct them immediately.