I think the 4th of July has always been a special day for me. I grew up in an era of patriotism and pride in our country. If there were scandals, we were shielded. We truly believed we WERE the greatest nation on earth.
Our dads and granddads had fought in two world wars. We had made the world a safer, better place. There was a sense of honor, pride and contentment then.
As a child, the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem stirred my soul. And even today, they still bring tears to my eyes.
My maternal grandfather fought in both World Wars. He was only 14 years old in World War I. He lied about his
age, and records weren’t the best back then. He grew up fast, and traveled to many places he had only heard of from others.
When World War II came along, he enlisted again. His dress Marine uniform is preserved in our county historical museum. When my mom passed away this last year, I found boxes of his letters, and photographs of shipmates and cities they visited on his tours. I also found letters from him to my grandmother and mom, as well as letters he received from them.
I cannot imagine not having contact daily with my loved ones for weeks/months at a time.
Sometimes the melancholy in the writing is difficult for me. But the overwhelming tone is hope, faith, duty and love of family from the Marine, as well as from the family to him.
We were taught as children, to place our hand over our heart when the flag was raised, during the National Anthem,
and during a 21-gun salute. I still do this … I always will.
My dad and his two brothers enlisted in World War II. Dad was not allowed to go oversees because his older brothers were already there. After Pearl Harbor and the loss of 5 brothers on one ship, the military determined that at least 1 son should stay stateside. My oldest uncle was shot down in a couple of planes, and my other uncle had more strategic duties. My mom’s brother went into the Navy, and fought in that arena of the war. All returned home.
Then in my early teens, Vietnam came along. It was an ugly war. Not only did we lose many good men, but even
the survivors have struggled with unspeakable mental and physical pain. And in many cases, we as a nation turned our backs on them. Most were not cheered when they returned home, many faced mental anguish and deep mental demons.
We became more suspicious of the political arena, and the decisions regarding our military expenditures and their goals.
As a nation of free people, we are required to do this. But I believe we also have a moral duty to support those who willingly put their lives at risk. If men and women choose to take an oath to protect us, let us be mindful of them in our prayers and praise.
So to anyone reading this who has served, who has endangered their life on my behalf, who has raised their hand
to preserve my freedom … thank you.
You can contact Sally by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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