When Husband got back from Iraq last year, winter had already settled in on our corner of Northern New York. Going from the desert to the frozen tundra of the north was quite an adjustment for my strong "I've been to war twice" ranger qualified soldier. The heat in our apartment was always turned up to the high 70s and even the low 80s. As I melted away, Husband went about his business as though we were not living in a sauna (Thankfully, heat was included in our rent. I still feel bad for our landlord!). I didn't say anything though, because he had just gotten back from a 15 month deployment and we were told by the Garrison Commander to be nice to our soldiers. This year, however, is a completely different ball game. We live in Texas. The coldest temperature we have seen so far this winter has been 36F (2C). I have yet to pull out my winter jacket, or any jacket for that matter. Mittens and toques (winter hats for all you Americans!) are still packed away. I am still wearing T-shirts, although my shorts have been replaced by jeans. Once in awhile I will wear a sweater. Husband, on the other hand, acts as if we are still in New York. I have lost count of how many times he has turned the furnace on. I come home from work to our very own greenhouse effect, all courtesy of Husband. We have now established a little tradition when it comes to heating our apartment. Husband turns on heat and when he's not looking, I turn it off. He gets "cold", wonders why, looks at thermostat and turns heat back on. Then he watches me to make sure I don't turn it off. So while he sits with the heat on, I turn on a ceiling fan and wait for him to get distracted so I can turn it off again. And don't even get me started on sleeping, because I sleep practically naked and still sweat like crazy! How can anyone be this cold? It's not normal! And here's the best part, he sits around the apartment in shorts and a t-shirt most of the time. Would it kill him to put on some pants so I can turn down the heat?
As I was driving to work, I was listening to the radio. The station I was listening to did a little tribute to veterans. The DJ read something that was written by a Marine. It was very moving. The DJ could barely make it through the reading, and by the end of it, I was crying (of course). A couple hours later I was back in the car, and listening to a different station. The DJ on this station read the same thing, but he did not read it all the way to end. He stopped before the final paragraph. I was first annoyed, then angry. I don't know why he didn't read the last paragraph. It is somewhat political and maybe he didn't want to offend anyone. Maybe his copy didn't have that last paragraph (although every website I found that had it, had the last paragraph). If I had had the station's phone number I would have called them up and given that DJ a piece of my mind. Anyway. Enough with my rant. Here is what was read this morning, complete, with the last paragraph:
What is a Veteran?
Some veterans bear visible signs of their service: a missing limb, a jagged scar, a certain look in the eye.
Others may carry the evidence inside them: a pin holding a bone together, a piece of shrapnel in the leg - or perhaps another sort of inner steel: the soul's ally forged in the refinery of adversity.
Except in parades, however, the men and women who have kept America safe wear no badge or emblem.
You can't tell a vet just by looking.
He is the cop on the beat who spent six months in Saudi Arabia sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carriers didn't run out of fuel.
He is the barroom loudmouth, dumber than five wooden planks, whose overgrown frat-boy behavior is outweighed a hundred times in the cosmic scales by four hours of exquisite bravery near the 38th parallel.
She - or he - is the nurse who fought against futility and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years in Da Nang.
He is the POW who went away one person and came back another - or didn't come back AT ALL.
He is the Quantico drill instructor who has never seen combat - but has saved countless lives by turning slouchy, no-account rednecks and gang members into Marines, and teaching them to watch each other's backs.
He is the parade - riding Legionnaire who pins on his ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand.
He is the career quartermaster who watches the ribbons and medals pass him by.
He is the three anonymous heroes in The Tomb Of The Unknowns, whose presence at the Arlington National Cemetery must forever preserve the memory of all the anonymous heroes whose valor dies unrecognized with them on the battlefield or in the ocean's sunless deep.
He is the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket - palsied now and aggravatingly slow - who helped liberate a Nazi death camp and who wishes all day long that his wife were still alive to hold him when the nightmares come.
He is an ordinary and yet an extraordinary human being - a person who offered some of his life's most vital years in the service of his country, and who sacrificed his ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs.
He is a soldier and a savior and a sword against the darkness, and he is nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the finest, greatest nation ever known.
So remember, each time you see someone who has served our country, just lean over and say Thank You. That's all most people need, and in most cases it will mean more than any medals they could have been awarded or were awarded.Two little words that mean a lot, "THANK YOU"."
It is the soldier, not the reporter, Who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, Who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, Who has given us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier, Who salutes the flag, Who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protestor to burn the flag."
I don't want to repeat what I wrote last year, but I do feel that I need to write something today. Remembrance Day is very near and dear to my heart. For this post, I want to echo the words Pres. Obama spoke at the memorial service for the victims of the Fort Hood, Texas shooting:
"For those families who have lost a loved one, no words can fill the void that's been left. We knew these men and women as soldiers and caregivers. You knew them as mothers and fathers; sons and daughters; sisters and brothers. But here is what you must also know: Your loved ones endure through the life of our nation. Their memory will be honored in the places they lived and by the people they touched. Their life's work is our security, and the freedom that we all too often take for granted. Every evening that the sun sets on a tranquil town; every dawn that a flag is unfurled; every moment that an American enjoys life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness -- that is their legacy. (emphasis added)
Tomorrow is Veterans Day. It's a chance to pause, and to pay tribute -- for students to learn the struggles that preceded them; for families to honor the service of parents and grandparents; for citizens to reflect upon the sacrifices that have been made in pursuit of a more perfect union. For history is filled with heroes. You may remember the stories of a grandfather who marched across Europe; an uncle who fought in Vietnam; a sister who served in the Gulf. But as we honor the many generations who have served, all of us -- every single American -- must acknowledge that this generation has more than proved itself the equal of those who've come before. "
Please take the time to think about those who have given their lives for the cause of peace. Take time to thank a veteran. Take time to pray for those still serving. May we always remember. May we never forget.