Why Veteran's Day has a totally different meaning for me now
Although Veteran's Day was yesterday, today is the federal observance of this holiday that commemorates all those who have selfishly served in this country's armed forces. I don't come from a military family, but just a few months ago, my stepson surprised us all when he announced he had joined the Marines. I must say I was extremely proud of him because I know it wasn't an easy decision to make. At 22, he could already be done with college and starting his professional life, but he's had a complicated life and, for a while, chose to go down the wrong path. So, signing up for the military seemed like the most reasonable choice.
On the other hand, and even though my stepson has barely been in the Marines long enough to graduate from basic training, I can already see how difficult it is for a (step)mom not to constantly worry about her child's prospect of being deployed to a conflict in a far away land.
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My husband and I don't really talk about it, but the dread that comes with the thought that he's been trained to go to war, has become a part of our daily lives. Sadly, it's not like we only worry about his life being in danger; we also worry about the effects of war once he gets back home. With military suicide rates--blamed in part on PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injuries--at an all-time high, we must never forget what these men and women go through while fighting for our interests far away from home.
That's why I agree 100 president with what President Obama said in his speech yesterday at Arlington National Cemetery:
Today, a proud nation expresses our gratitude. But we do so mindful that no ceremony or parade, no hug or handshake is enough to truly honor that service. For that, we must do more. For that, we must commit –- this day and every day -– to serving you as well as you've served us.
Luckily, my stepson has a few months of training before he's even considered ready to go to war. In the meantime, we remind ourselves how proud we are of him. We tell ourselves that what he's accomplished so far will only make him stronger. And we hope that when he does become a veteran, people back home will never forget his sacrifice.
Image courtesy Roxana A. Soto