Growing up as an Air Force Brat (thankfully I had something to blame the "brat" part on...), we moved all over the place. Fortunately, that included two tours in Hawaii, so there wasn't a lot of complaining coming out of our family. One of our assignments took us to Tokyo, where my sister and I graduated high school (an American school). Fun times!
While in Japan, I met a neat friend, Vin, who is one of the few people from high school that I still keep up with (and to his credit, he is a much better keeper-upper than I am). After graduating from the Air Force Academy, he followed in his Dad's footsteps and became a USAF fighter pilot. Super impressive guy.
He was sweet to send me a birthday greeting earlier this week, and I noticed that the e-mail address was different than his usual. He informed me that it was coming from his military e-mail account in Iraq.
WOW. The war has been going on a long time, but this is the first time it's been personal for me.
Regardless of your thoughts about the war, or the President, or government in general, any American who's American has to feel a deep-in-the-pit-of-your-stomach gratitude for someone who raises their hand and volunteers to protect our freedom. Even if you disagree about sending them to war, or the reason for the war, the fact is that they are fighting a war on our behalf. They are standing face to face with the enemy so we don't have to. They have committed their lives -- at the expense of sleeping in their own beds at night, sitting around the dinner table with their families, seeing their babies being born, opening Christmas presents with their kids, and some even at the expense of ever coming home again -- for you and me and this amazing country that we call the land of the Free and the home of the Brave.
Well, I am the Free one, and I am so grateful for my friend Vin, who is the Brave one. And for his sweet wife, who is living her daily life without her best friend there, raising their son, and looking forward to the day that Vin is back on American soil.
"While the storm clouds gather far across the sea, Let us swear allegiance to a land that's free, Let us all be grateful for a land so fair, As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer.
God Bless America, Land that I love. Stand beside her, and guide her, Thru the night with a light from above. From the mountains, to the prairies, To the oceans, white with foam. God bless America, My home sweet home." Irving Berlin, 1938
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