If You Are Free, Thank Someone

Written By: Kim - May• 29•11

As the USA celebrates Memorial Day this weekend, it’s more than a three-day weekend. It’s a time to reflect upon how our hard-fought freedoms are won. And, give glory to those who won it for us.

It’s become a trite saying over the years: If you are free, thank someone in a uniform. But when was the last time you thanked someone for serving their country? As an Army brat, I sometimes don’t feel it necessary to often thank another service member since my family lived it. We lived it for 26 years, several hardship tours and two tours in Vietnam. But, that said, it doesn’t mean that I should never say thank you. This is my public thank you to those who currently serve and those who have served.

© Robert Linder, courtesy of stock.xchng

Anyone connected to the military knows what kind of sacrifices Armed Service personnel make. From the most public: battle scars, possible life-long mental and physical disabilities or death. Many sacrifices are more private: less pay, long family separations, higher divorce rates, assignments in desolate locations, and letting politicians decide your fate. Citizens enlist in the military for a variety of reasons and reenlist for the same reasons: They are called to this vocation. There simply can not be any other reason because no one really wants to make these sacrifices. But, when you are called to a profession, you cannot ignore it.

There is something special about a uniform. It denotes a belonging. It identifies the person wearing it with a group. It’s one of the most powerful brands any marketer could ever hope to create. It sends a sense of fear and hope, depending upon the situation it is worn in. It provides a sense of pride.

So, for all of the opinions out there, remember that you are allowed to have your opinion because the U.S. Constitution guarantees it. And, never forget that someone in the military has upheld it for you since 1776.

So reach out the next time you see a military uniform. Say thank you to the woman or man inside it. You won’t regret it.

Sacrifices Run Deep: How Genuine Are You?

Written By: Kim - Mar• 25•11

I ran into an acquaintance at the gym this week. For almost 11 years, we traveled in our local chamber circles, citywide school band concerts and now the gym. I won’t pretend to be anything beyond the “I know her” relationship. She is a lovely person with a great sense of humor. We just never connected beyond a superficial business relationship.

When I asked her how her family was doing, she hesitated and looked away. Then replied fine. I asked if she was sure. Then, she dropped a bombshell: They had just buried her 23-year-old stepson the day before. He had returned from Afghanistan, was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and was unable to heal. And, that it was the first time she had been out of the house since it happened.

I was stunned. As I made the cursory, “I am so sorry” comment, I realized that this was really phony. We do this all the time — all of us. Don’t act like we don’t. Someone else suffers, we are shocked and then we go on about our lives. So, despite the fact that I was somewhat sweaty from yoga class (yeah, I am a girl who sweats in yoga), I hugged her. It seemed more genuine. I did apologize for being sweaty, but she was going in to a cardio class, so my fate was soon to be hers anyway.

I knew this woman had remarried and that she had sons of her own. I did not know enough about her life to realize she had any stepchildren or that they would be old enough to serve in the military at this time. But for that moment, I shared her loss as a Mother and human being. I could only imagine the grief her family was shouldering. The torment they would feel as parents not being able to help their son heal. The realization that their son is gone — permanently from this earth — and spent the last moments of his life a tortured soul. The loss is staggering and I am praying that God will heal their family.

Can my red head freckled face boy really become a Navy Seal?

I left her in the studio and made my way to my car, immediately thinking about my 13 year-old son. In less than five years, he will legally be able to vote, strap on a uniform and serve his country, if he so chooses. He has made overtures that he is interested in becoming a US Navy Seal. How genuine will I be in supporting him if this is what he chooses?

Would my fate ever be that of this stepmom and so many other parents who bury their children after they served in the military? I wholeheartedly believe in “duty, honor, country” but do I believe it enough to potentially sacrifice one of my own children to this cause? Any cause? I grew up a military brat with siblings who served. My husband served in the US Air Force as did his Dad and sister. But would I be able to say yes when asked?

Despite a Mother’s worry, I believe I would honor my son’s decision and support him in any way possible. Part of being a good parent is giving our children wings and letting them fly. We cannot hold them back from their dreams, desires or destinies even when the path might be dangerous. We have to have faith that they will persevere and that God will carry us through our times of sorrow, if they do not.