My reverence for you is akin to messages of salvation received in small town church services.
Your bravery is overwhelming. Your sacrifice is appreciated. Words can be empty; however, mine are not. It is rare that when I see you I don’t tell you a simple “thank you.”
When you think your country has forgotten you, I have contemplated silent remembrance. I care not your reasons for joining the service. I am grateful that you protected my deceptive veil of freedom.
I will never comprehend your missions, your longing, your endurance. I will cultivate knowledge of your life through letters my grandfather wrote from World War II. I will pour over every word and never understand. Your memories will haunt me as I choose a small place in this world to appreciate your salvation of another’s culture.
I will learn Italian and live in Italy just to see great works that you may have saved. I will talk to old locals to find out what living under Mussolini’s control was like. I will think of the children you interacted with who grew up thinking American Soldiers were heroes and heroines.
I will commute to work on small country roads worrying about random garbage in the middle of a highway wondering if you would think it to be an improvised explosive device. I eat my food with a new gratitude wondering if yours are better than the K-rations that many before you had.
I will be unable to read of your great battles on the field and of the comrades you lost. My empathy is so deep that my imagination of your scars is enough to make me feel the pain of the world. I will sit in a side chapel St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and weep for you, your family, and your fallen.
We will never meet. I will never express all of my gratitude in person. Your image will burn in my mind and my heart. I will think of you daily in the hot desert of Iraq and the cold mountains of Afghanistan. I will hope you have letters and care packages from home. I will pray prayers of safety for your return to the loving arms of your family.
And when word comes that you have died a soldier’s death, I will give thanks for your life, hoping that peace may bless your soul.
I will teach small minds about your courage and love of our country. Anger will rise in me when I see an American flag hanging incorrectly at half-staff in front of a government building. And even though, I will rarely agree with the politicians who sent you into harm’s way, I will forever remain thankful that you were willing to do what I never was.
I will rarely question the methods of war, trusting that you are doing the very best that you can under hostile conditions. It concerns me not what blood you have on your hands. You will always remain in my heart. Thank you for the freedom I hold dear.
Signed a Loving Supporter