Friday, November 11, 2005

11th Hour, 11th Day, 11th Month

Last weekend I attended the dedication of the Southeast Idaho Veteran's Memorial at Upper Ross Park in Pocatello. The crowd was amazing, even in freezing weather, and was impressed at how important that day was for so many, including me. This morning, already running late for school, and in an odd mood, I had this overwhelming feeling that I needed to stop over at the Memorial before I started my day. As I pulled up to the Memorial which is set on the hill right off of 4th avenue in south Pocatello, I wasn't going to stop until I saw a little man standing out on the bricks (an inset of bricks engraved with the names of those who died in service to this nation).

I usually make an effort to thank a veteran every Veteran's Day. My first year at ISU I was so privileged to be in the classroom of Herr Mussler who as a German-American served in the United States Navy. That Veteran's Day I was only brave enough to give him a thank you card as it is a strange concept to me to walk up to people I barely know to thank them for things they did before I was even alive. Today I thanked a man I work with who served and was injured in Vietnam. Also, today as I got out of my car at the Veteran's Memorial I quickly saw the hat of this older gentleman who served in both Korea and Vietnam. He shook my hand and I thanked him. I've never seen that man before in my life and right now I can't even remember his name, but I know as I stood there with him this morning I was so thankful that there are men and women in this country who have the ability and desire to serve, defend, and protect the rights I hold so dear and often take for granted.

Veteran's Day for me can often be very emotional for several reasons. First, the holidays get to me and as we approach Thanksgiving and Christmas the harder it is for me. Second, eleven years ago today someone very close to me passed away. Someone who I know has played a huge part in molding the person that I am today. There are people in our lives that we just know are looking out for us and guiding us even though they aren't here with us to hold our hand and lead us on the path we must travel. There are also those who effect us in immeasurable ways when we are young and impressionable. And of course every Veteran's Day is filled with a patriotism that is only matched maybe one or two times the rest of the year. Today I know that I live in the greatest country in the entire world and have been blessed with opportunities that are not present anywhere else. I know that millions have died defending and protecting future generations of Americans who may not appreciate that sacrifice. I refuse to be one of those who does not recognize or appreciate the sacrifice made on my behalf.

To every veteran who may read this, thank you for your service, thank you for your selflessness, and thank you for your sacrifice. I, for one, will never forget it.

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