There is a quotation that has been misattributed so often there doesn’t seem to be a clear source for it. Some say Rudyard Kipling. Same say Winston Churchill. Today, as we honor our veterans, I’ll offer it without attribution because it has always resonated so strongly with me.
“We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.”
I hold that sentiment in my heart and I appreciate those men and women more than I can say. In the moment I write this and in the moment you read this, somewhere in the world a United States soldier is putting his or her life on the line for our country. Soldiers are going through hell. Their loved ones are going through hell. My gratitude for those men and women defies words.
I also spent ten years of my childhood as the stepdaughter of an Air Force NCO. He worked in the hospital and, in many ways, it was like regular life only the people wore uniforms and there were a lot more rules. All you had to do was listen to stories of their required emergency drills to know these were not combat troops. But even for those who are fortunate enough to never be sent into combat, the military life requires sacrifice. Their work is important.
Once upon a long time ago, my husband was a Marine, but the word veteran makes him uncomfortable when addressed to him. Though he served toward the end of the Vietnam War, he was (mostly) out of harm’s way. His job mattered to the people who depended on the work he did, but he did four years and moved on. Many years later, I stood beside him on the last day of our honeymoon trip and watched him trace the name of a childhood friend on the Wall. He watched a friend suffer and die long after being chemically poisoned in Vietnam. He sees what our troops and their families are suffering today. He shrugs off his service because so many others have sacrificed so very much.
To anybody who is serving or has served and feels the same, I’ll tell you the same thing I’ve told him: Your service matters.
It matters to me. No matter the job you do, when you enlisted you took an oath to serve our country. My country. My sons’ country. Maybe you’re on the front lines. Or maybe you’re one of the thousands without whom those men and women couldn’t be out there. Whatever you do for our country, it’s important and I’m thankful you’re there to do it.
To those fighting far from home, I pray you all come safely.
To every member of our military, I am so very grateful for you. You have my respect, my support and my sincere gratitude for your service. On behalf of my family, thank you.