Thankful for Service of Military and Families

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“Veterans Day is a public holiday that is dedicated to honoring anyone who has served in the United States military. The holiday began as a day to remember the end of World War I and was declared a holiday by President Woodrow Wilson in 1919. Originally known as Armistice Day, the holiday became Veterans Day in 1954.” (copied from: http://publicholidays.us/veterans-day/)

A day set aside to remember those who gave some or all for their country and to honor those who loved them.  Service is a family affair.  Ask anyone who has sent a loved one off to boot camp or into combat.  Service of our country costs all those who love the serviceman or woman also.   God instituted REMEMBERING in the desert following the Exodus of the Jewish nation out of slavery in Egypt.  Veteran’s Day continues this practice of remembering.

Several years ago, my nephew was in Iraq with “boots on the ground.”  I admired my sister’s fortitude and courage as she kept watch during his tour the same way she kept the home fires burning during the extended service of her husband of thirty plus years.  This son, a gentle giant, loves his Mama, has infectious laughter, and is fiercely loyal.  He is the image of his grandfather, a Korean war veteran and like his Dad, this “favorite son” chose to serve our country.  

Men and women who stepped up to the plate and wrote a blank check made payable to the United States of America for a life willing to die to protect our freedom.  When these brave souls take the oath to defend and protect, the ones who love them also take an oath to let go and trust God for their safety and safe return.  Tears brim to the surface unprovoked, a lump in the throat prevents speech or swallow, goose bumps rise high with every hearing of our National Anthem, the repeat of our Pledge of Allegiance, or the sight of a waving American flag.  War movies and documentaries are banned in their homes.  There is little tolerance for disrespect of sites of honor for our veterans.  Hearts pound hard in chests, palms get sweaty, breath is bated at the sight of a uniform.  Sleep is fitful and full of dreams.  Life is spent frozen with fear every time the doorbell rings, anticipating when the door opens the sight of a military honor contingent come to deliver the news most dreaded:  The favored one will be coming home to be laid to rest, is missing, or is injured.

I am so thankful for the internet for military families today.  Not so very long ago, the only contact was snail mail written on “onion skin” paper to reduce the cost of postage from overseas.  These letters often arrived from “the front” after the military had delivered the news that the one sent to war was MIA (missing in action) or KIA (killed in action).  Babies were several months to years old before they met their Dads.  Being a part of life at home was impossible prior to the internet.

During my nephew’s tour, my sister would rise early every morning to watch the news, hanging on every word to see if where her first born son was located was experiencing “action.”  She scoured the internet for the unreported news and counted the days until he would be safely on American soil once more.  She became a living picture of “prayer without ceasing” not only for her son but the sons and daughters of countless others, especially those who had no family at home keeping vigil.  I saw the same scenario played out with a friend of mine for her son and his Army strong bride during the last year.

I too watched the news, listened, and prayed.  I asked the Lord for a hedge of protection around this “favorite son” as he served shoulder to shoulder with other favorite sons and daughters.  I wept as I saw the pictures of him standing guard in the Iraqi desert before a gun, boots, and helmet of a fallen brother.  I wept for my sister who I knew was swelled with pride, bent in thanksgiving, and fallen prostrate for another mother who would feel all these same emotions from a far different place in her heart.

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Our family sat before a flag draped casket of one who served:  he did not die while serving.  However, our country allows military honors for all who have honorably served at the time of their death and provides sacred places for these comrades in arms to lie side by side.  These National Cemeteries are national treasures and are an extension of Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C..  Fields of green and stones of white are holy ground placed throughout our country and a constant reminder of the price paid for freedom.

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(Blade of Grass and Pure White Stones by Steve Amerson)

Freedom is indeed NOT FREE!  It costs a great deal:  “For many give much and some give it all.”

Just as Christ shed His blood for our spiritual freedom, these veterans paid with their blood, sweat, and tears for our national freedom laid out in the Constitution and Bill of Rights.  I thank our Heavenly Father every day for the love of family, country, and for the many sacrifices each made to serve a nation founded as “one nation under God indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery.”  (Galatians 5:1 NIV)

Today, I honor all those I love who have served — both at home and in active duty!   You are heroes:  defined as  1) a person of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities;  2) a person who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal.  As we remember the sacrifice of many, may we take inventory of how far we as individuals are willing to go to maintain this hard-fought-for freedom.   

Today, as I count my blessings, my list is long as I recall the names of every single veteran and their family.  Thank you.   IT IS MUCH!  

GOD BLESS AMERICA!

Yvonne

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About Yvonne Jones

I am at heart, a LIFEguard: "big" sister, mama, grandmother, aunt, friend, swimming coach, lifeguard trainer, and registered nurse. I am in the business of alleviating fear through education and lots of hand holding. As a swimming instructor, I have taught people of all ages to overcome fear of the water and I marvel as fear gives way to fearlessness, as panic turns to pure joy, as tears dissolve into giggles of glee, and pennies retrieved from the bottom of the abyss become trophies. As a nurse, I have been privileged to walk up to Heaven's gate as patients and family are welcomed home, witnessed the miracle of birth, helped mend broken hearts, and cared for the elderly as they wait. Scriptures number one admonition is "fear not." Question is HOW??? The Word becomes our swimming instructor and can help us learn to "tread water til Jesus comes." Something my students often thought I was going to make them do! So welcome to my pool! Jump in the cool water. Let it refresh your soul and feel the unseen hands of the Master Lifeguard lift you up and out of the deep water. Who knows, you just might even walk on water!

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