“Yay, Nick! Welcome home, buddy!”
I wasn’t expecting a welcome party when my family and I stepped off the plane. We’d taken a quick trip to Washington for a funeral and had just returned.
Glancing over my shoulder, I spotted a young man in camouflage directly behind me, the one who had allowed my family to step into the aisle ahead of him to exit the plane. He had a mop of rust-colored hair and wore glasses. A smile spread over his face as his cheeks reddened at the attention.
He was one of about ten soldiers who’d flown with us into Anchorage. My husband found out later from the commanding officer that the men were returning home after a nine month deployment to Iraq. I’d never witnessed a welcome-home except on TV. My heart warmed when I glanced back to see an older gentleman (a commanding officer) grab the young red-headed man in a bear hug.
I’m privileged to come from a family who appreciates the men and women who have served our country. All three of my brothers served in the Army, and my youngest brother Joshua Shaddox, now in his fifteenth year of active duty service, is currently a First Sergeant for an aviation brigade in New Jersey. My husband, like his father before him, served in the Marine Corps. Two of my brothers-in-law also served for a time.
Yet I pondered over the weekend just how many Americans don’t appreciate our veterans and soldiers. In our Sunday School class, my husband and I took a moment to talk to the boys about Veteran’s Day. Only one out of twelve knew what a veteran was. Granted, they are only third graders, but I was still a bit disappointed. Why aren’t more people talking about the brave men and women who fight for this country?
So today I just want to give a shout out to all my friends and family who’ve put their lives in harms way to ensure that Americans are safe and can enjoy the freedoms we all too often take for granted.
This is not just another day – Veterans deserve to be celebrated.
Have you thanked a soldier or veteran lately? Don’t wait – show your gratitude today!