Growing up, I didn't really know what it meant to be a veteran - to have served our country. I didn't "get it." I knew that my uncle and some of his friends were in the Navy, stationed in Virginia. I knew I only got to see him when he came home from the "big ship." I knew that my Papaw was in the Army, but only recently did I find out that he was a Sargeant 1st Class and served his country for 21 years. Neither of them ever really spoke about their service to our country; I just knew that I loved and admired both of these men that were important to me for many reasons, including their time in the military.
As I got older, I began to have a wider perspective of the military. I have had many friends who have served and here and there I learned bits and pieces. I thought I understood what it must be like to serve and to have that kind of bond, even with perfect strangers. I still wished my veteran friends a "Happy" Veteran's Day.
My view has changed yet again. I've chosen to spend my life with a veteran and while I will never fully "get it," there are a few things that I now know for sure. I know that Veteran's Day is not a happy day; it's a day to remember those veterans who didn't make it home and to thank the ones who did. I learned that I will never really understand why the men and women who choose to serve our country do what they do for so many who are unwilling to do the same. I will never understand the bond that they have with one another. I will never understand why the majority of veterans would drop everything and do it all over again if they could.
My heart breaks, yet swells with pride every time I remind myself of this. I didn't choose to serve this country the way so many have. I have however, always held a deep appreciation for those who did choose that path. I am thankful for the sacrifice. I am grateful. For you, you, and you.
Remember today, the fallen heroes who didn't make it back home. Remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for me and for you. Remember their families and friends. Say a prayer for the veterans who we are lucky to still have with us today. Pray for them to find peace and comfort. Remember that today is not a "happy" holiday, but a day of remembrance and thanks.