My father served in the air force. He doesn’t talk much about that time, except for a bit here and there, but it mostly about a few people he met. I remember as a child, looking at his old uniform that hung in the closet, faded navy blue, with the gold buttons. I didn’t understand then, the sacrifices made by men and women who wore that uniform, but I stood in awe at it just the same. My dad was long out of the military by the time I came along, but he still had the same sense of pride as he did when he wore the uniform. I never saw him miss an opportunity to salute the flag, taking off his hat in respect and honor. In later years, I’ve seen his tears, as news comes of a veteran receiving honors and the pomp and circumstance after years of dedicated service. His gruff face can crumple into a myriad of emotions, and I see the gratitude in his eyes, a fellow brother who understands.
I grew up in an area filled with “military brats” in my school. Most of my dearest friends in high school were only there for a few years while their own mother or father spent time station at the local air force base. I spent my senior year with friends who had a parent serving in the First Gulf War, and only then began to understand the toll political unrest can take on a family.
It hits very close to home with the recent events in the nation, and my own family. There are families today that are mourning their loved one. They remember those whose lives were lost in the line of duty, either on foreign soil, or on home ground. Many know the pain of losing a loved one. Many have been lost, fathers, brothers, sons. Mothers, daughters, sisters. My father in law has lost a father and a son, both while serving their country. My husband has lost a brother, and I don’t know how one ever gets past that, especially when the wounds are so fresh.
Near my house is a small park, only a few feet wide, dedicated to the Veterans of the Armed Services. Today it will be festooned with yellow ribbons. I’m proud to say that I honor them. I wave my flag proudly and support them. Today I am grateful for my freedom and for the brave men and women who fight for that blessing in my life.