My dad has had a long career working for United States veterans and currently serves in the administration at the Spokane Veterans Affairs Hospital. Because of my dad’s career choice I was raised to always respect and appreciate the people who have put their lives on the line to defend the richest freedoms that any human being on this planet could ask for. Besides my dad’s influence, brave members of my extended family who honorably served our country also resonate within me and remind me of how indebted I am to the men and women who have fought for the founding principles of this country.
I grew up going to Veterans’ Day presentations, I grew up talking to my relatives about military service and the horrors of war. I thought I appreciated all what our past and present service people had done for us. I thought I got it. However, it took a trip to our nation’s capital to really realize the sacrifice and price that had been paid for our freedoms.
During my junior year of high school my dad took me on a very memorable trip to Washington D.C. to really get a grasp of my American roots. We did everything from the monuments to the museums to the cathedrals. We walked past the White House, walked on the steps of the Supreme Court, watched Congress in session, saw the newly constructed 9/11 museum, and walked through the National Mall. For a history buff like me, my eyes were wide open the entire time. It was an awesome experience, one that I will never forget.
However, the part of the trip that will forever be engrained inside my mind and in my heart came when we visited Arlington National Cemetery. We got off the metro and after just taking a few steps you could see it. Rows and rows of white tombstones poking out of the earth and expanding further than the eye could see. As we got onto the cemetery grounds and started looking around a thick aurora of reverence engulfed me. Although other tourists were all around me there was no noise whatsoever. We were on the hallowed grounds of where close to a half million people were buried, people who had the courage and inclination to give up their lives so someone like me could live a comfortable life with invaluable freedoms. It was an absolute overwhelming experience.
A blog post will never come close to scraping the surface of how much we owe to our veterans. I could have provided a more fitting offering by serving myself but I never had the guts to do so. That is why it is imperative for people like me to give extra respect to veterans and to this country. Many of us have received so much but have given so little. Happy Veterans Day. Don’t Blink.