Gratitude and Joy

Day 320 – A Year of Gratitude and Joy – Kiss a Veteran Today

If you enjoy your freedom as an American, thank a Veteran.

It’s a phrase we see often as we celebrate Veterans Day, but for me it has special meaning, because I’m married to one, and I am truly grateful for her service … and for ALL who served.

I did not. I often quip that I was raised in the industrial side of the military/industrial complex. My dad was a missile guidance systems expert and program manager for some major military missile projects. My best friend’s dad did the same at Lockheed. I grew up in Southern California under the shadow of the cold war (I learned later Los Angeles was ringed by defensive Nike missile sites). My dad took me to Air Shows at Naval Station Pt. Mugu. I understood the important role the military played in keeping our nation safe.

Nike-Hercules Missiles like these above Chatsworth, Calif. were common in the 1950s and 60s. People still hike to many of the abandoned sites.

Yet I did not serve. In high school, I considered the military academies as an alternative to college — I wanted to fly — but my grades, athletics and contacts were not up to snuff. I never really considered enlisting, in part because no one was pushing me in that direction, but also because of timing … the military was still in its post-Vietnam reduction in force. Life went on.

A year after 9/11, I moved to the Washington, DC area where the military is pervasive. I lived under the Andrews Air Force Base flight path. I have several friends who were in the military, one who served several tours in Afghanistan. I came to truly appreciate the sacrifices they and their families made.

Then as now, whenever I see jets flying overhead, I look up and think, “The Sound of Freedom.” (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Betty R. Chevalier)

Then Judy entered my life. She told me all about her time in the Air Force. Her friends from those times became my friends. I was both fascinated and honored to hear their stories — the good, the bad and the ugly. They were compatriots in the truest sense. In some ways, I was an outsider, but I was welcomed into their fraternity.

My favorite pic of Judy from her Air Force days. It makes me proud every time I look at it.

I have continued to amass even more friends and colleagues who served. Neighbors proudly fly the flags of the United States Air Force, Navy, Army, Marines, and Coast Guard. Some were officers, others enlisted. Some have been in the thick of combat, seeing first-hand the horrors of war. Some have PTSD. Others never saw combat, but were key cogs in the military’s engine. But they all have one thing in common — they stand tall and proud. They are Veterans.

Several of our neighbors are dual military couple Vets.

So when I say, “Thank you for your service,” it comes from the heart. I enjoy the freedom I have as an American because of the commitment you and your families made. When I kiss Judy today, it will be for everything she has brought to me as a person, but also for everything she has brought me as a citizen. She represents you. And to all the Veterans out there, thank you!

There’s a whole world out there waiting to be explored. Wherever you are and wherever you go, thank a Veteran!

© The World A to Z, LLC 2022 — Unless otherwise indicated, no compensation was received for this blog.

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