THE GIFT

I wrote this back in July. I think it’s message for our new Commander-and-Chief, is an important one.

I have been trying to write this “Independence Day” message for a couple of weeks. And frankly, I have been struggling. Then, a new connection on LinkedIn sent me a message and through our exchange, I was inspired. If not me, who? I wrote at the end of my message, a reference to the firework displays. The veterans who have seen war, who have fought battles, our warriors, struggle during those fifteen minutes of, “Bombs Bursting in Air.” For many it is terrifying. The noise can throw them back in time when there were real bombs exploding, real danger, real loss of life, real friends dead. We are a young country with many wounds to heal. But, we are strong and need compassionate leaders.

Out history of the emphasis we put on this day of the year, to celebrate our nations freedom, to honor all veterans from that first day when we declared ourselves an independent nation in 1776, is phenomenal! We are a young nation at 240 years. But, we are a strong nation who needs strong leaders.

There will be family reunions, picnics, barbecues, parades, concerts, and baseball games in every backyard, small town, city, and state where people can gather. Th months of preparations for this single day, to show our patriotism is nothing short of monumental. We are a young country. But, we are strong and need righteous leaders.

This one day of the year has been stretched into a week, or more, of honoring our veterans in various ways. All the ball parks have a veteran throwing out that first pitch. There are charitable organizations honoring veterans with special events. And some families are gathering to remember the one that won’t be with them this year…We are a young nation, but, we are strong and the price has been high. We need honorable leaders.

All this attention to the veterans walking among us today, warms my heart deeper than any of you will ever know. Some of you have similar feelings from your own circumstances, and some of you stand proud that one of yours has given their livesvso we can keep this day of freedom sacred. We honor you too… This is a day about remembering the price as well as the gift. Yes, the gift. The gift of freedom all veterans fought for, and are still fighting for today. This gift of freedom…all gave some, and some gave all.

Remember this Mr. President.

image

One By One

One by one they decide to serve this country during a time of war. One by one they continue to sign their lives away, if that’s what it takes. They have each made this decision knowing they may pay the ultimate price.

One by one they stand strong, as they look to the one on their right and to the one on their left. They pledge to fight for each other, as well as for country, family and home.

One by one they watch, as the one who stood beside them falls. And another steps up, one by one they stand, they fight.

One by one they return home. One thing that never entered their minds was returning home changed, injured, mutilated, unrecognizable.

One by one they fall through the cracks. One by one they take their own life, the one they so eagerly signed over to serve. One by one for every hour of everyday, they die.

Why is it that one by one we turn our eyes away? One by one we choose to ignore, to act as though we don’t know their struggles, to not reach out to those standing so close.

One by one we will be held accountable. Which one are you, the one who served, the one who reached out, or the one who quietly turned away?

Be the one, the one who cares, the one who listens, the one who stands up for and beside them. Be on their right, and on their left, walk before them. And always have their back–as they had yours.

Please, do what ever you can. Let’s stop death by suicide among or warriors!!!

Ask Yourself

While I was visiting my 85 year old aunt, she was married to my mothers brother, we drifted into conversation about “the old days.”  Not the “good old days,” because they were hard times, troubling times. Times when people struggled to put food on their tables and clothes on their backs. Times when some watched as war broke out in countries they once called home.

Most of my people were born and raised on farms in the mid-west. For generations going back to before the founding of this country, they planted their gardens, plowed their fields, and took care of their livestock. They worked hard from sun up to sun down. And not just the adults, but the children too. That’s just the way things were back then. They all understood that everyone in the family had to do their part, and it never entered their minds that it should be any other way. Everybody worked.

I had to smile when Aunt Dody talked about their warm water baths. They would haul water from the well and fill up a tub that was located in the yard “out a ways from the house.” “The sun would just warm that water right up.” she said. And they would take turns “washing up.”

Most families “back then” had a grandma or other elderly relative living with them. They would help out around the house and with the cooking as long as they were able. Then, they were cared for by all the other members of the family until they passed on. Families were close. The children learned a lot by having their older relations in the same house, and most times in the same bedroom. Most farm houses only had two rooms, one for cooking and eating and the other room was for sleeping. Conversation, or visiting as my aunt would say, took place around the kitchen table.

My aunt and I talked about the clothes we had growing up, and how our mothers sewed everything. My mother would sew five dresses at the beginning of the school year for myself and my younger sister. I’ve long since forgotten when I finally got a “store bought dress.” After school we would carefully hang them up in the closet. We took good care of those dresses because they had to last.

Aunt Dody said her mother made her three dresses for school. Now, to make their clothes meant a trip to the feed store. It was the same for my mother, along with all the other girls in their one room school house. My mothers family, and my aunts, lived on land around the town of Welch, Oklahoma. Yes, look that one up on your maps.

The sacks that the feed for the horses came in were made from material of various colors and prints. This material would be put to good use when made into dresses, shirts, aprons, and anything else that might be needed. The sacks would be stacked to the roof in the feed store in town, and the girls would have the clerk moving the sacks around until they found the colors and prints they wanted. Everyone in the family took turns when a sack was emptied and brought in to be sown. But sometimes the print that finally made its way to the house, would not be the one they had their eye on when it was their turn.

“I really had my eye on this one pattern. But when it was empty and ready to be made into something, it was grandma’s turn. Will my grandma of course wanted me to have it, you know how grandma’s are,” said Aunt Dody, But her momma pulled her aside and whispered to her, “Now Dody, you let your grandma have that one and you can have the next one.”

The next piece of material that came in was “a really pretty blue with little flowers just sprinkled all over it. I’d had my eye on that other one, and I guess I didn’t notice this one in that load of feed sacks.” She leaned over to me as we each took a sip of our sweet ice tea and said, “We really used a lot of feed for them horses of ours.”

Her momma made “this beautiful dress with a fishtail skirt, you know where it’s longer in the back,” Aunt Dody said. But, when her mother finished the dress, which needed buttons for the front of the top, her momma didn’t have any buttons. “Well my aunt was over to the house one Sunday, and I was showing her my new dress that momma had made up for me.” said Aunt Dody. “And she said she had some pearl buttons that she had cut off an old dress. And she thought they would be perfect for mine,” she continued. “Now I really thought I was something with those pearl buttons on my new dress.”

As we continued to talk about how much we have now, compared to then, we both paused—remembering times past.  These are stories that should never die. We need to record the stories our parents, grandparents, or any older person that is willing to share, so that we may never forget. What is it that we must never forget? That the people who built this country, who gave birth to a nation of proud people willing to defined her, who were willing to do whatever it takes to grow her into a mighty nation, they were all members of our families. These are all reasons to never forget.

Past generations of this countries citizens built the foundation for freedom that we all rest on today. Our fathers and mothers, our grandparents, storytellers everywhere, are very much like our young men and women today. From the time our nation was conceived there has been war. And with war comes those who willingly stand up to defend this way of life we enjoy, sometimes without considering the price that may have to be paid.

Today it’s our sons and daughters, our siblings, our spouses, and our friends, who stand up to fight the battles to secure a safe life for us. And when they return home from war, do we ask ourselves what we can do for them? Yes, there are those all across this country who reach out to help our returning service members, especilly the wounded. But the need is great, and the response from our civilian population is insufficient.

Ask yourself, “How would I respond if it were my child, my brother or sister, my spouse or best friend returning home from war to an ungrateful nation?” Would you try and make sure the next warrior who stepped back onto American soil was not forgotten, but truly appreciated and cared for? I sincerely hope so.

I guess where I’m going with this is to ask all American citizens to wakeup, give back, remember from whence we came. Think about it, the way to honor your ancestors, to honor your family and friends today, and to honor and preserve this way of life for the generations to come, is by honoring the warriors and their families who are fighting todays wars.

Take a step. Make it happen. Say, “Thank You.”

Silver and Gold

Silver and Gold,

Silver and Gold,

Families of heroes,

Both Silver and Gold.

A warrior is gone,

And with death there is sorrow,

As their family lets go,

A Gold Star in the window.

A warrior is wounded,

Life has been changed,

For a Silver Star family,

Life is never the same.

Silver and Gold,

They both have seen loss,

Precious their medal,

Two paths that cross.

Silver and Gold,

When joined together,

Gives strength to both,

Supporting each other.

Silver and Gold,

Working for good,

Making sure we remember,

They gave what they could.

Silver and Gold,

Silver and Gold,

Families of heroes,

Both Silver and Gold.

IMG_0204_2

Warriors

I have not met one single warrior who has come home from war and accepted the title of “HERO.”  Even though they have been through tremendous pain and suffering from injuries, or suffered from the emotional scars of PTSD, they still do not like being referred to as heroes.

It took me a while to understand why, when my son came home from war wounded, he had a kind of discord to this word when it was applied to him.  You could see him physically tremble, when this word would come his way.  He refers to the scars he will always carry as badges of honor.  And at the same time, he says they feel like he is wearing a heavy coat every single day.  He can not feel the touch of my hand on his burn-scarred arms, unless I apply enough pressure to push through the scars to the muscles that remain.  It’s so sad when a mother’s touch often times cannot be felt…

Why–we all wonder–do our warriors not feel justified in holding this title they have all so willingly fought for.

The answer is simple–they do not believe there is any such thing as a hero.  Throughout all the wars in the history of our nation, those who fought have never liked this word.  All every warrior believes they have done is to fight for their families–their friends–the one standing beside them–the one behind them.  And this is simply what they believe anyone would do.

Heroes are something we create, to somehow justify the fact that we were not on those battlefields with them.  We believe we are honoring the sacrifices these warriors have made for us.  But it is not the way they want to be honored.

If we want to honor those who have fought, died, and come home wounded, then let us honor them in the way they want–for what they fought for.

Let us all remember our grandfathers, fathers, partners, and children, as they were and are, precious, courageous, loving souls who took on the job of protecting us and others.

IMG_0204_2

Thunder

The darkened, cloudy sky’s,

Above the rolling ocean waters,

Caused the marine to feel

The thunder of his lost brothers.

~ Diana Mankin Phelps

image