“…many scars of our nation’s wounded warriors are not visible.(Like)the recurring memories of an intense moment of combat…Far too often, my peers are haunted in silence without the same support of a grateful nation encouraging them through their struggle…As a society…we must do more to support these men and women who return home with the injuries we cannot see.” ~ Rep. Brian Mast
This piece was originally intended to highlight one unsung hero’s life but it morphed into more than just that. In it are a couple of messages that I wanted to convey to you. Due to its length, I have broken it up into smaller parts for easier reading.
I admit, I did not expect to share his story this way or in this context but I cannot ignore the gnawing feeling in my heart. Perhaps it comes from the spirit of my uncles, grandfather and others in my family who’ve long since left this Earth. Maybe it’s current events that tug at my heartstrings.
Whatever it is, I do know is this, every time an American flag is set on fire or stomped on, it breaks the hearts of soldiers past, present and future. Every time an athlete sits, kneels or raises a fist as the Black Panthers did during the national anthem, I can see a tear form in a soldier’s eyes. Every negative opinion piece written that puts them, the military as a whole, the flag or the country down, feels like a knife is being shoved into a soldier’s gut. These things not only affect current soldiers, but also of those in the past and future. That pain reverberates out to their spouses, children, parents and grandparents.
For those who don’t understand, let me try to put it into perspective.
I’m guessing that there are many of you reading this who would do anything to protect your family and loved ones. You might even take a bullet for them or fight an attacker to the death. This has been the primary, if not THE, reason men and women have signed up for military service. They want to protect our home and the way we live. I said “our” because it’s not just their home and way of life but, yours and mine too. The difference is that they leave their homes and their families to go off to fight in far off lands that many have never even heard of. They risk their lives, and some even their families lives, to preserve your right to do what you want to do, when and how you want to do it.
For many generations the American Flag has been a symbol of what our country stands for and what our service men and women fight for. It also represents freedom and unity. You could almost compare it to a sports team’s colors that are also on a team flag or banner. Yes, in a way you can compare the two. Sports teams play to win against another team. They also have various symbols that represent their team. Our military men and women fight to defeat an enemy. The difference is that they fight for their lives as well as yours and mine.
I have a question for anyone who plays on a sports team or is a diehard fan of a particular team. If I came along and burned a team flag/banner, spit on your jersey or punched the team mascot, how would you feel? Angry? Disrespected? Hurt? If you said yes to just one of those, you now know how our military men and women feel.
How am I so intuitive and passionate about this? Because I am the former wife of a soldier. Despite the end result of our marriage I am still a proud (now ex)wife of a soldier. I heard stories of what he went thru as well as stories of what others have gone thru…the horrors that they’ve seen. His story is very similar to other Vets, especially combat Vets, even tho the details vary. Out of respect for him and others like him I am leaving out the details.
I have read and even had my share of comments thrown at me saying that forced patriotism is not good. While I agree that forcing anything is not good, I am not trying to force anything. “We have Free Speech rights!” Yes, you do, as do I and many others like me who love our country and the men and women who defend it. Including police officers. I am merely one voice in a sea of many others who supports our military who simply request respect for them, our national anthem, our flag and our country.
Men and women of the military are our heroes and, whether we realize it or not, every one of us has probably shaken hands with a hero. We’re often unaware because the bravest among us too rarely have their actions brought to light. So, what does a hero look like? They look like men and women who went through hell and carried their comrades-in-arms out to the other side. They look just like the rest of us. They don’t wear masks or capes. Sometimes, though, you can recognize them by the flag over their coffin, or the medals they have hidden away in a box.
Recently I had someone tell me that there are no heroes. A hero is a man distinguished by exceptional courage and nobility and strength. They are someone who fights for a cause. Another thing that defines a hero. They are men and women who do things that others won’t or can’t do. Could you put on a military uniform and go to some far off land and fight another human being that threatens you and your way of life? Could you run into a firefight or kill another human just to save your comrades-in-arms? Simply put, would you risk your life to save the life of another person? Honestly, most of us wouldn’t.
***Please be sure to read more of my posts
Come back tomorrow to read about heroes of the past