Monday, May 25, 2015

Army Boots

All last week, we were talking about buying boots. Charlie's heading off to West Point soon, and he needs to buy his boots well before he leaves so that he can break them in before the dreaded Beast Barracks. Army boots are a normal part of my daily life - since I'm an Army Brat, they're Dad's standard footwear for work. So buying boots for Charlie was just one more item on the to-do list.

Then, on Saturday, we ran a 5K sponsored by an organization that supports the survivors of servicemen who have died, giving them a link to the military for as long as they want it. In the middle of the track that was the starting point for the race, there was a huge display of boots. One boot for each of the more than 6,000 soldiers who have died since 9/11, each with a photo ID attached to the laces.

It was a profound reminder of what the men and women I grew up around have gone through.

None of these soldiers, sailors, marines, or pilots were drafted. They joined the military voluntarily and served faithfully. Each of them has families - if not spouses and children then at least parents and siblings - who must miss them every single day.

Someone recently told me he is anti-war (specifically referring to the War on Terror).  That's fine with me - it's a free country, and I'm an avid supporter of freedom of thought and speech. But although I didn't say it, I did think to myself that the reason that we live in a country that supports those freedoms and the right to be anti-war is because of the servicemen and women who put their lives on the line to do the dirty work of guarding our nation.

And it is incredibly difficult work. Nobody knows that better than the soldiers themselves. They and their families sacrifice an unbelievable amount to the cause of serving their country. It isn't fun to spend months and years away from home, fighting a war under the direction of politicians who make mistakes or unpopular decisions. None of the soldiers I know are "for" war per se - they just think that war is better than the alternative. And considering how hellish war is, that's saying a lot.

So I want to take a moment to give my small thanks to all of those who have sacrificed so much in service to their country. To the soldiers who have died, and to the families and loved ones who survived them. To those who continue to wear their boots and carry on the job faithfully. Thank you.

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