Monday, May 28, 2012

A Thanks to Those Who Serve

No menswear today. 

Memorial Day is always a special day for me. I’m a big history buff and a particular fan of anything World War II: the HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers” and “The Pacific,” and the History Channel when it used to show history programming. But there’s also a personal touch to Memorial Day. My grandfather served as a US Army Airborne Ranger during the Korean War. He was recently inducted into the Army Ranger Hall of Fame at Fort Benning, Georgia, for his service.
I’ve had a unique relationship with my grandfather in terms of his time in the military. To his wife and children, he was never completely open about his experience, but as a young kid I can remember him regaling me with tales of combat. Some were exciting tales, the kind every young boy uses as fuel for a future imaginary game of Army in the backyard. Others though, were emotionally wrenching stories of battles fought and friends, brothers in arms, lost along the way. I had never learned the true depth of my grandfather’s service until his induction and subsequent recitation of his meritorious decorations. He never showed anyone, told anyone, or asked for recognition.
Years later, a stranger contacted my grandfather in regards to his time in Korea. This man’s father had served with my grandfather, and gave his life in service to his country. It was a touching and emotional experience to see this man meet my grandfather, and for the two to connect over a fellow soldier; one, as a father, the other, a friend. 
With the constant distractions the world bombards us with each moment, it can be hard to remember what others have given so that we may enjoy the freedom and prosperity of this country. I know I've found myself wondering over America's true degree of “freedom," when it seems the rest of the world is nearly as democratic and free as we are. It’s easy to forget that what we have today was built on the sacrifice and determination of generations before us. Servicemen and women have always been ready, standing tall to the order to defend our freedom and the freedom of others around the world. Regardless of your political leanings on the justifications for various wars, the men and women who have served have always, and will always deserve our utmost thanks and respect. They’ve certainly earned it.
If you know someone who has served, be sure to always let them know your appreciation and admiration for all they’ve given and all they’ve given up. The kind words of a respectful stranger are just as much a boost to someone as the love and support of their family. Buy them a beer and shake their hand. It takes a special breed of person to stand up for what they believe in, and it takes an extra ounce of courage to risk life and limb. Lord knows they don’t do it for money, and it certainly wasn’t the idea of a free beer that enticed them into service. My grandfather has never asked for anything in recognition of his time in Korea, and neither do any other troops at home or abroad. Although they may not ask for anything more, and they may admonish the idea, they do deserve it. They deserve everything we can offer, because they’ve given everything they have.

Thanks for reading, and to our servicemen and women, thank you for all you have done. 

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