On Nov. 11, we set aside a day to honor those who are willing to put themselves in harm’s way in order to give the rest of us the chance to wonder what’s on TV tonight, if it’ll rain tomorrow and to go tuck our children into bed.
We find different ways to say thank you and express our gratitude to our veterans for a gift that is given so willingly and is so large that no words will really ever express just how much it means.
However, there is an opportunity for the millions of us who are recipients of this gift to take a moment and really look at what’s being preserved for those of us left at home to enjoy.
In turn, that will also give us a better understanding of the sacrifice that is offered by someone who defends our shores and yet, doesn’t get to enjoy the simpler pleasures either through their long absences or even their untimely death.
So often, we talk about the bigger picture of democracy like having elected officials or the chance to practice the religion of our choice because that’s what we most readily associate with the freedom we enjoy in America.
So much of our lives, though are influenced by the nuances of democracy that we don’t always see how amazing it is that we pull off what’s still seen as revolutionary in most other places, in our lives every day.
We may argue about whether or not a mosque should be built so close to Ground Zero in Manhattan, but we recognize that the law will prevail and any rock throwers will get thrown in jail.
Actually, the freedom to openly argue without fear of retribution is another perk.
More recently, quite a few citizens have been testing out the Constitution with the Occupy Wall Street movement that’s spread across the U.S., and is a nice example of the right to gather in large groups for political purposes.
Most countries don’t let that happen without a lot more bloodshed.
The vast majority of us have always lived within U.S. borders, and although we see the way others live in other countries, we don’t really get what the day-to-day circumstances would be like for us.
The simplest things like saying in front of your co-workers that you don’t agree with something the president did, or even trying to run for office yourself may be out of the realm of safe possibilities.
Keeping our children well-fed, safe and educated could be the only mountains we’d get to attempt to climb in our lifetimes.
In America, most of us get to sometimes take those things for granted and worry more about how to help our child make a salt map of their home state or the price of milk. Not wonder if there is even milk available, or if it’s safe to go and get it.
That peace of mind is due in large part to our armed forces, because regardless of what side of the ideological fence you sit on, there have often been those who have wished to do us harm and end our way of life.
It’s as if they want to end the discussions in coffee shops, the dreams of little girls who think about being class president, and take off the airwaves every suggestive show they don’t happen to view as acceptable.
That’s a slippery slope that usually ends in oppression.
Therefore, an appreciation of gratitude is owed to all those throughout the generations who have made sure that doesn’t happen.
Take a moment to remember on Friday that we are also currently serving as a nation in a dual war in Iraq and Afghanistan that began over ten years ago in 2001, but is rarely mentioned anymore on the evening news.
Although there was a drawdown of troops in Iraq, the numbers were raised in Afghanistan, and that has kept the amount of people serving static.
We are still a nation at war with Americans at risk, and to date, we have lost 1,681 servicemen and women in Afghanistan, and 4,483 in Iraq, according to iCasualties.org, which lists the name of every service person killed.
The closest number of casualties among the U.N. troops in Iraq is the U.K. with 179 lost. Many more have come home with permanent disabilities.
Those who have served and guard us still, all over the world, deserve our constant appreciation and especially on Veterans Day. Take the time to visit the Armed Forces News Services site, where you can e-mail a soldier –– http://www.usafns.com/email.shtml –– and just say thank you.
If you have a veteran living on your street or in your home, take the time to say thank you to them and appreciate just for that day all that you have and everyone around you.
Tweet me @MarthaRandolph and let me know how you showed your appreciation. www.MarthaCarr.com.
Martha’s column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc., newspaper syndicate. E-mail her at Martha@caglecartoons.com.