The holidays remind me of the blessings in my life that are possible because 1.4 Americans serve in the U.S armed forces. Add the over 24 million Veterans that have also served and you realize America should be proud!  Their choice to  serve ensures the safety of my most treasured blessings- my family and my friends.  Without the men and women who serve, our holiday celebrations would not be possible.

The holiday season provides an opportunity to reach out and honor our American Heroes. Simply saying thank you, provides a powerful message showing our gratitude and respect to those who fought, and continue to fight, for freedom.  No one sacrifices more to preserve our blessings than America’s men and women who choose to 4 serve our country.

Lessons from the Past

In 1868, General John A. Logan, the founder of Memorial Day reminded Americans to, “…cherish tenderly the memories of our heroic dead who made their breast a barricade between our country and its foes”.

These words ensured future generations would never forget those that died securing peace and freedom. General Logan reminded us that those who served in conflict to protect our land while sacrificing their dreams deserve respect. The legacy of his words preserves the hope of our nation for future generations.

General Logan’s words become profound with the arrival of the holiday season. While many are tying up loose ends, purchasing the perfect gift and preparing to celebrate the birth of Christ, we easily lose sight of just how lucky we are. Today, most of our families and neighbors are not directly touched by war. That missing connection makes it difficult to truly grasp the depths of sacrifice and the profound costs, that are made so we can enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The men and women who fought bravely during the American Revolution showed that responding to something greater than one’s self requires courage, bravery, and sacrifice.  The same holds true today as Americans respond to the call of duty. Our Armed Forces ensure that no matter what the threat might be, freedom will continue to ring across this land –From Sea to Shining Sea!

Moving Forward

The lives of those who fought, and those who served their country in support of the military, made a significant commitment and sacrifice.  A commitment and sacrifice we take for granted.  We fail to appreciate those who gave their lives. We fail to recognize those who bear the scars as a lasting memory of that commitment and sacrifice. Chris Kyle, slain Navy SEAL and author of “American Sniper,” discussed the scars in his memoir expressing, “There’s definitely still a lot of hurt from losing my guys or the fact that I got out and I felt like it wasn’t my time yet.”

We can’t forget that there are many who remember vividly the price of freedom. They remember the loss of a parent, a child, a co­worker, or a neighbor. We cannot forget that our military and their families have endured pain for the love of our country – for the love of each one of us.   Their unselfish sacrifice was made with the assurance that our freedom would be preserved.

Never Forget Those Who Serve

When I was a little girl, perhaps taking Christmas for granted, my father read a letter Abraham Lincoln wrote to Mrs. Bixby. Sadly, Mrs. Bixby lost five sons in combat during the Civil War.  To honor my father, I read the letter to my American History students  on the dayf school before Christmas break. The letter taught my students about true sacrifice and commitment as they connected to the honesty and compassion expressed by President Lincoln.

Dear Madam:

I have been shown in the files….that you  are the mother  of five sons who  have died gloriously on the field of battle.  I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming.  But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.  A. Lincoln

Harry Truman once said; “I think I know the American Soldier… He does not want gratitude or sympathy.  He had a job to do. He did not like it.  But he did it.  And how he did it.  Now he wants to come back home and start again the life he loved”

Both Lincoln’s and Truman’s sentiments speak to the love I have for our country. Their words remind us that our military deserves the highest regard, respect, and honor.  They are not just soldiers, marines, airmen, and sailors; but also husbands, sons, wives, daughters, fathers, and mothers. Instead of a warm bed at home, a nap in a trench must suffice.  Away from their families for months, our armed forces live in the shadow of death daily.  They must brave indiscriminate gunfire without complaint. The men and women of the United States Military do all of this and more for their love of country; our country!

Final Reflections to Honor Those Who Serve

Take a moment during this holiday season to stop and reflect on your blessings.  Those blessings are possible because of the selflessness of the men and women who have chosen service to our nation. They deserve our gratitude and admiration. Celebrate those who are serving today and our veterans. They accepted the responsibility to defend America and uphold our values when duty called. We must accept the responsibility to honor their choice.

I leave you with these eloquent final thoughts expressed by President George Washington, President Abraham Lincoln, President Ronald Reagan and Father Dennis O’Brien, USMC.

“The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the Veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.” President George Washington

“Honor to the soldier and sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country’s cause. Honor, also, to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field and serves, as he best can, the same cause.”  President Abraham Lincoln

“There are some who’ve forgotten why we have a military. It’s not to promote war, it’s to be prepared for peace.” President Ronald Reagan

It is the Soldier, not the minister, who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the soldier, not the organizer, who gave us the freedom to demonstrate

It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag.

And whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.”

Father Dennis Edward O’Brien, USMC

Let the magic and wonder of the Christmas spirit fill your heart all year long.

God Bless America!

If you would like to reach and say thank you please check out The 3rd SPG Veterans Foundation or Operation We Are Here