Yesterday evening, while sitting on the couch & sipping hot chocolate (EASY, YUMMY recipe here), I realized I still hadn’t uploaded my blog post in honor of Veteran’s Day. I grabbed my laptop, sipped my cocoa, and began checking my writing for the usual errors and inconsistencies. As I was making my way through the post, my adorable (and rambunctious) puppy, Riggs, jumped on my lap, sprawled across my computer’s keyboard, and deleted my work. It all happened within two seconds and as if to rub it in, tiny print at the top of my screen appeared reading: “Permanent Delete Completed”….The joys of having a puppy. I was upset in that moment, so I decided to take a break and rewrite the Veteran’s Day post and share it a day later. Happy Veteran’s Day, one day late.
I take for granted living in America. I take for granted the simple freedoms I have–running across the street in the morning to grab a cup of coffee and the paper, browsing the Internet for cute videos of baby pandas (watch this video if you like to smile), driving a car to grab groceries, voting in a midterm (or any) election, saying a prayer in a restaurant before eating…These are basic things–things I’m allowed to do because I live in “the land of the free and the home of the brave.” I forget that simply by existing in this country, I live a life with luxuries that many people outside of America, will never have the privilege of understanding.
This summer, Oak Lawn Toyota was lucky enough to participate in a Chicago-wide event to raise money for the USO. (Click to learn about our efforts here.) This event was a humbling learning experience for me. Sure, I “knew” that soldiers and their families endured much heartache and pain while home and abroad but I never quite understood the depths of their struggles until I heard it from families who relied on the USO for help.
When our armed forces selflessly enlist, they say the following:
“I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
Think about the weight of those words; the utmost courage the soldier possesses to be able to say each phrase and back them up with action. The soldier must be steadfast, resolute, brave, resourceful, and dynamic. The soldier knows the stakes and is willing to put his/her life on the line despite the danger. The soldier does everything to protect our country. **The families at home live in agony as they, too, understand what kind of danger their loved ones risk each day for our country.
But the soldier is a person. She is a mother missing her husband and kids back home. He is a son wishing for his mother’s homemade chicken noodle soup while he fights the flu. He is a father wishing to get home for the birth of his first child. She is an aunt waiting to hear how her nephew’s first soccer game went without her at the sidelines to cheer for him. Soldiers are fathers, sons, mothers, daughters, girlfriends, boyfriends, aunts, uncles, best friends, sisters, brothers, lovers; they are people.
They experience the same emotions and ailments like the rest of us. And when they come home, they disappear into a crowd with everyone else. However, their faces are slightly more weathered, for they’ve been exposed to much more tragedy than most of us–they’re walking around fighting the inner demons that penetrated their subconscious the moment they saw the first act of war. Their lives are waking testaments to our freedom. And yet, shamefully, how easy it is to forget them once they’re home.
Veteran’s Day is a reminder to all us that we live in a free and beautiful democracy. But as more and more soldiers return home from recent wars, today is a stark reminder that it’s the citizen’s turn to care for the soldier. We all experience love and heartache; depression and happiness; hopelessness and hopefulness. Let Veteran’s Day remind us that while our soldiers are heroes, they’re also people–people who need us.
Today, I thank you for your service to your country–for allowing me to be free.
And I want you to know that your country is behind you right now–now that you’re home–in one of us, you’ll find an extra set of shoulders to cry on, an extra set of eyes to proofread a resume, an extra set of ears to listen to you, an extra pair of hands to pray with you, an extra pair of legs & feet to take you to your doctor’s appointment, and most importantly, to be an extra person to encourage and support you while you transition back to civilian life. We’re here.
Thank you to all of our veterans who have served, continue to serve, and those who will serve in the future. Thank you to the families of each veteran–for your strength and patience in the face of uncertainty.
If you would like to learn more about how you can help, please click on the links below:
I leave you with one of my favorite poems by Charles M. Province
IT IS THE SOLDIER
It is the Soldier, not the minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.
It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the Soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to protest.
It is the Soldier, not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.
It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.
©Copyright 1970, 2005 by Charles M. Province
**Christina Colosimo is the author of this post. She is the social media manager at Oak Lawn Toyota and she handles customer service issues–both complaints and compliments. All views expressed in Christina’s writing reflects ONLY her opinion. Christina’s views do not necessarily represent the views of Oak Lawn Toyota and its employees.