Happy Veterans Day to our beautiful men and women of the military!
I never had a true respect or understanding for the military until I started working with senior citizens who were retired veterans. These old people always wanted to play the piano and sing old patriotic songs. For years, every Friday in the facility I work, the residents wore red for the soldiers. EVERY FREAKING FRIDAY! I thought I was bleeding there was so much red on Fridays! Red shirts, red shoes, red hats, red hair, and red draws (underwear)! Where did they get all this red? I currently own five red pieces of clothing, a pair of red socks, one pair of panties, one red gown, and two red t-shirts. That’s all I have!
One day, after we had just finished an activity, I asked a group of residents why they were so patriotic. They asked me what I meant. I explained to them that growing up no one in my family was active military. I had a friend whose uncle was in the army and my uncle was in the army for 31 days but could not go further because of his eyesight. I currently have a nephew in the military but that’s it! I grew up in a small town in South Carolina but now I live in a military town, meaning there is a full fledge army base here. EVERYBODY in this town is in the military, is a military brat or is married/related to someone in the military. It’s pretty serious around here. The group of residents explained that they survived the Great Depression and have seen war after war. Boys becoming Soldiers, housewives becoming mechanics, and the rich become poor. They saw it all and the one thing that kept the country going was everyone working together. While the soldiers were away fighting for everyone’s rights, their sisters, wives, and mothers were home fighting to keep the country and economy running.
After that talk, my eyes were opened and I saw America and the military differently. Today at work, we had our annual Veterans Day luncheon to honor our residents for their service in the military. Each resident was allowed to say a few words about their time in the military and what it mean to them to serve their country. It was a very humbling experience to listen to two ninety plus year old men recall their duties during WWII with such clarity as if it were just yesterday but struggle day-to-day with things we take for granted. Things such as having the strength to stand long enough to shower, shave their face without their hand shaking, and remembering how to tell time. These are OUR men and women, OUR soldiers. They were once someone’s baby, someone’s husband or wife, and they are someone’s father or mother. How dare we leave them hungry, cold, and begging for help.
They gave up everything they knew and loved to serve this country. Choosing to go into the military is such a selfless act. Today I took a few minutes to speak to all of the residents directly from my heart. I shared with them the love and respect I grew for soldiers by listening to their stories of heroism but to them it was just “what needed to be done”. The military isn’t just about fighting wars, protecting boards, etc. It’s about turning someone’s little boy or girl into a human being. Teaching them to have love and respect for others regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or financial status. As well as teaching them to love, respect and believe in his/herself. For someone who has never seen me, never spoken or heard my name before, risk their life for me makes me proud to be an American. For this, I salute the military!