I come from a family full of military men. My great-grandfather, my grandfather, an uncle, some cousins and my brother. I also live in a city where there’s an airbase, basically right down the street from it. My first job was a waitress that worked with serving meals to people on their way to boot camp and deployment. The military has played an important part of my life. My son, like any son probably, loves to pretend he’s a soldier and wears a military plastic helmet and does a patrol. Living so close to the base, he often sees a person in uniform and always seems to get their attention to salute them. He wants them to know he appreciates the danger they put themselves through to protect us, and he honestly admires them. He says he won’t enlist though because his “mommy’s heart couldn’t handle football, let alone war”. He’s probably very right.
I was young when my brother enlisted. I was close to him and I remember being heartbroken he had to go away. I’m pretty sure I locked myself in my room a long time and cried. I remember when he was coming home to visit, I worked to make a nice banner for him and woke up to him making french toast. (Amazing the things you remember when you try.) To this day, I make french toast just like he did. Since he doesn’t read this, I can also say embarrassingly that every time I make french toast, I think about him. It’s stupid to think though, since he only lives a mile away and I see him a few times a week for family dinners and because our sons are friends.
I’m lucky, everyone I know that served always came home. They weren’t fighting in wars, they were helping protect people to make sure a war didn’t happen. I know people personally that weren’t as lucky, and those are the people we need to personally thank. It wasn’t just the service of our family and friends, it was the service the military families give. They give us their family and stand by them while they fight for their country. They worry constantly about whether their family member will return alive, not just mentioning worrying about the person they will be when they come back. Sadly, they don’t always come back. Veteran’s Day isn’t just about those who serve our country honorably; it’s about their families who suffer waiting and have broken hearts when their loved ones aren’t alive when they return. It’s about families who never even get lucky to see their loved one a last time or are left wondering if they are alive or dead for years. We need to take a moment to thank them too, though they might not accept our gratitude because the pain of loss is so great.