Military roots run deep in this family.
My father-in-law enlisted in the Army in the mid 1950s, and stayed in the Reserves until his retirement.
My father enlisted in Marines in the late 1950s and served his tour in California. His brothers all served, too.
My brother-in-law attended West Point in the early 1980s and served in Germany before he became a Reservist. He later re-activated and did two tours in the Middle East, worked in the Pentagon, and retired just recently. He now works for FEMA, continuing to serve our country.
My husband enlisted in the Army ROTC at Central Michigan University in the early 1980s. He served as a reservist until we were married in 1990.
My sister enlisted in the Navy in the mid 1980s and served as a recruiter until her retirement. She also now works for the federal government.
My nephew enlisted in the Air Force ROTC when he began his studies at MIT. He is now an officer and an aeronautical engineer working for the USAF.
It came as no surprise two and a half years ago when our son told us he was enlisting in the Army. He has been wearing fatigues since he was 18 months old. He and his dad (and certainly his sisters) spent hours on the floor setting up little plastic green Army guys in intricate patterns. He was awe-struck by his uncle — his uniform and his huge responsibilities. And, he always knew the serious calling that the military was — the willingness to lay it all down for people you love and for people you don’t even know. He knew that signing on the line was agreeing to that.
So did all the others, and they still agreed to it. Every one of them.
Countless men and women have signed on the line. They have agreed to wear the uniform day in and day out. They have agreed to years of minimal pay, mediocre food, long hours, and looming danger to protect people they love and people they have never met.
They get a few perks. This past weekend our son got four days off from work. He got to run a 10-mile race for his battalion with a team of fifteen other guys. They get camaraderie — buddies they will have for the rest of their lives. They get world travel — our son went for three weeks to South Africa on a training mission. They get world class training — in everything from navigation to first aid to strategy to firearms.
They also have the daily risk, even when they are just training, that someone won’t make it. They train hard to be in the top physical condition so that they will be able to withstand extreme circumstances. They learn to jump out of aircraft in the dark of night so that they can land in territory where they have never walked. They practice firing weapons so that they can with speed and accuracy take out an enemy.
They do a lot of things that you and I would rather not know about. And they do them willingly to protect us at risk of their own lives.
For this we take one day each year, today, to say thank you.
So, thank you. We are proud of you and of your sacrifice.
Greater love has no one than this; to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.