Once there was a time when they ran through the woods, fields or down the sidewalks. Skipping stones, kicking cans, scabbing knees and grinning with popsicles dripping grape stains down their chins.
Dressed up dolls or dark-green plastic army men filled their minds with energy and fantasy. Childhood days filled with endless play and nights spent burning marshmallows on long sticks dipped in the flames of small campfires.
As fast as the fluttering wings of a hummingbird, the years flew by. Childhood things were put away. And with the dream of a better life, a career, protecting home and a plethora of other reasons why, the decision was made to enlist. For some, there was no option because the choice was made for them.
They served on land, sea or sky. They served on foreign land or here in America.
Serving for the act of serving, no matter where or how, is in and of itself a dangerous thing. It requires a courage I cannot quite fathom.
And so, serving, the days, weeks, months and years went by — sometimes too quickly, sometimes not quickly enough. Friendships were formed and strangers became kin. Things were seen and done. Some never to be forgotten, some to only visit in the dreams or nightmares that come in the dark of night, and some were stricken from memory.
After serving, the view of the American flag gently waving in the wind carries a deeper meaning. The sound of Taps will forever be etched in hearts. And powerful is the joy of being home, wherever home might be, and being surrounded by loved ones, or peacefully solo if so desired.
There is honor in having served. And there is an unmeasurable gratitude for those who served. And that is every hour, every day, every week, not just this week, the week of Veteran’s Day.
It’s a difficult thing, for sure, to find the words to express my respect and indebtedness to our veterans. My heart is overwhelmed as I think of the veteran who I share my life with. And while I wish I had known him all my life, I am thankful that I did not know Gary when he served.
I never had to face the worry of harm finding him when he was out to sea. I always have been filled with pride and awe for him. And so, while the words pale in comparison to what is felt in my heart, I say “Thank you” to my very own veteran, Gary, and to all those who served.
Written and submitted by Amy Randall-McSorley for The Circleville Herald. The views of this column may not necessarily reflect that of the newspaper.