Thank You Thursday – Those Who Stay Behind

Between Memorial Day, my grandfather’s death and the anniversary of D-Day this week, I have been thinking quite a bit about all of the sacrifices that people have made over the years in the name of liberty.  It’s not just patriotism for patriotism’s sake.  I mean, I like this country quite a bit, but it isn’t the only place in the world where people are thriving.

We would all be very well served to commit ourselves to learning a little more about the rest of the countries on the planet [Do you know anything at all about Canada’s politics?  Could you name their top political parties?  Do you know where Malawi is located?  Can you point out Syria on a map? What is going on with Portugal’s budget? Over which country does President Saleh preside?  — You can probably do one of them.  Even two or three.  All of them?  Me neither.  We’re just unbelievably self-centered, which is especially a problem if you consider your citizenship less a matter of political prestige and more one of spiritual matters]. But, I digress.

I am the child of a retired USAF Chief Master-Sargent.  I grew up completely entrenched in the military way of life.  And in many, many ways, the military worldview is unique.  You think differently about politics and security and the future and Red Dawn.  I went to bed every night for about two years in early elementary school convinced that I needed a way to escape if the Cold War came knocking on my door and could only comfort myself with the idea that living within 12 miles of an Air Force base gave me plenty of hope that I wouldn’t survive the initial nuclear bomb strike. Probably not something you were doing if your dad wasn’t working on a satellite test team that was part of Reagan’s Star Wars program.  See?  Different worldview.

And then there was my mother. She rarely said anything about those many many days and nights when she was a single parent and when she did speak up, if it wasn’t to invoke the “When your father gets home, he will deal with this!”, it was positive. She just sucked it all up and barreled through those days;  the ones where my father was gone for a year when we were smaller than my two kids are now, the ones when we were in elementary school and she was checking our homework and keeping the house and budget together too, the ones where we were out on our own and she was all alone with Pogo. She didn’t complain. She didn’t undermine his work.  She never gave him a reason to worry so that he could focus on the very important tasks at hand.

And she wasn’t alone. The world is strewn with scores of women who do and have done the same thing. The ones from WWII are leaving us so quickly now, these women who gave up silk dresses and stockings so that boys could jump out of planes.  The ones from the Vietnam era who suffered so much dealing with a war they might not have believed in while their husbands and fathers and brothers and sons fought because they’d taken an oath. The ones who watched their loved ones leave for places like Korea and Bosnia and Turkey and for places like submarines and carriers and out posts and front lines. The wars that continue to call your family away now are remembered and forgotten as their political advantage is needed.  Our every day lives here, though infinitely more informed than before, are cluttered with causes and attention can so quickly shift to floods and tornadoes and things that seem more imminent. I just wanted you to know that today, on this Thursday, I am stopping to remember you and to offer my thanks for all that you do.

I am so thankful for you.

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