Tears of Pride

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“American girls and American guys will always stand up and salute, we will always recognize, when we see ‘Ol’ Glory’ flying that there’s a lot of men dead, so we can sleep in peace at night when we lay down our head.”

I’m not sure if I got every word from Toby Keith’s song correct, but, it’s close. I do know that the vast majority of this nations citizens have no idea of the sacrifices that have been made, and are being made everyday, for their life of ‘Freedom.’

I guess when you’ve never known anything other than freedom that it’s hard to imagine what it would be like to live under a Dictators rule, or enslaved without regard to your wants, your basic needs, or even your life.

I think most of us adults have someone in our family history who fought and died in past wars. How many of us refer to them as “uncle so-and-so or grandpa such-and-such” served in some war, someplace? Where are your tears of pride?

I’ll be generous in calculating that only about 5% of today’s families have been touched by the wars our country have been involved in for the past 15+ years. Our sons and daughters, our sisters and brothers, our friends, our spouses, our fathers and mothers, have raised up and said, “I will serve.”

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Aaron was used in several publications. He was referred to as having “Hollywood Good Looks.”

Some have been placed on a list of those who gave all, who died so we could sleep in peace at night. We know what it means to shed tears of pride–this 5%.

But, its way past time for the blinders to come off for the other 95% of America’s citizens. What a difference could be made if we all got involved in some small way.

Our children need more American history  taught in their schools that is relative to them. They have parents, and other adults that they personally know, who have been in these past 10-15+ years of war. How many would show their tears of pride? Would they even know how to express such feelings? Can we not talk openly, and age appropriately, with our children?

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Aaron with his two children. He feels they are lucky to have been born after he was injured. They never knew him any other way.

My father lied on his enlistment papers to join the Marines after his 17th birthday. He was a boy by todays standards. During times of war, youthful dreams are often denied.

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My Gramps stands with my dad, after returning from boot camp. He was the oldest of three boys.

After this picture was taken, my dad got on his Harley Davidson motorcycle and rode for over 20 hours to reach his designated extraction point on the east coast. He sang “Put Another Nickel In, In the Nickelodeon,” all the way to stay awake.

He was anxious to fight for his country, he was eager to defend others, he was a man who put love of country before boyish dreams. When he reached the east coast, our fight was over, our enemies surrender kept him from stepping into the arena of becoming a war fighter. This was a regret he carried until the day he died.

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Aaron presented my daddy’s flag to his grandmother just 10 months after his own injury.

A trained Marine doesn’t like being told to go home, even though he was grateful the war was over. This man of honor cried tears of pride for his friends and family members that never returned. And there were many…

Even though I was a child of the Vietnam generation, I did not know one person who gave their life. Or even a family who suffered loss. Where were my tears of pride?

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The public affairs office somewhere in Vietnam. Including Don Oneal who watched over Aaron from the day he arrived back from war…wounded.

Before my son was injured while serving in Iraq, I was one of the 95% “unawares.”

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Aaron receiving treatment at Brooke Army Medical Center. This was taken at about four months into his recovery.

Then I began meeting parents who had a child that did not come home alive, or who died from their injuries in the hospitals where I was with my son. We held each other while shedding our tears of pride.

Well, all the above places me in just about every category of unawares, and awareness, there is when it comes to those who have served and died. And I have learned a lot about tears of pride.

My quite place.
My quite place.

Even though we will miss those who are now gone…those who chose to serve…we take pride in their choices…honorable choices that kept, and keep, this nation free…and others in country’s far from us free and safe. That’s the true, complicated, yet simplistic, meaning of tears of pride.

Just one more challenge, find your own tears of pride. Memorial Day will change you, teach you, and you will honor this day with tears of pride.

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