Lately I've been reflecting on how our current troops and veterans are under-appreciated. I used to never give a second thought to our military men and women except on holidays honoring them. But then my brother joined the National Guard and he was sent to Iraq. I know what he did over there in general, but I'll never know the full effects of his tour there. And recently I've become great friends with a guy who was a Navy Corpsman and also served with the Marine Corps. He did three tours in Iraq and while he's more open to talking about it than my brother, there's still so much myself and others simply will not understand. And he even said he's just now realizing that.
I can't justly compare it to my time in Echo, but there are similarities in that only the 17 of us in Echo 5 will understand our bond and love and all the crazy things we experienced in our two years of the program. Even if some stories are shared about our troops overseas, we will never understand. And unfortunately, those effects of their service run deep. Our veterans are struggling when they come back, and knowing and caring about two of them breaks my heart thinking about their hardships.
Yes, sometimes I question the reasons for our US presence overseas, and yes, these men and women freely choose to enter the military now and know of the chances of going and serving a tour in the Middle East. But despite your own opinion on our military and the wars we're fighting, these men and women risk their lives and livelihood. And coming back home they risk the chance of ever having a normal life. I'm not trying to say we should "feel bad" for our veterans; what I'm trying to convey is that we all need to be more understanding and respectful of them. And thank them often.
Even those who are still in the military here in the states continue to serve their country with right duty and honor. The other day I came across a story about a marine who stood guard at the hospital room of a dying 12-year-old boy. That is honor. That is a true hero. That is what it means to be an American. Yet so many people have lost that... You can find the full story here: http://www.modernamericanheroes.com/tag/sgt-mark-dolfini/
At Country Jam, a three day music festival in my hometown, the country music artists did a great job of honoring and saluting our troops. They gave them shout outs, had them on camera, even brought them up on the stage at times. And Trace Adkins played one of his newer songs, Semper Fi, a song honoring the Marines. After the song, my brother said it didn't do justice to what the Marines actually do for our country. I think it's still great that they still write songs like that though.
To all those who have served, are serving, and will serve our country in one of the branches of the military, thank you. I don't say it enough and I don't pray for you all enough, but I hope to start doing so now.