Today in the grocery store my daughter and I saw a member of the US Army, dressed in full fatigues, shopping for chips and dip. I admit to feeling awestruck and humbled when I’m in the presence of members of the Armed Forces. Those who serve in the Armed Forces voluntarily place their lives on the line and surrender so much – particularly the day-to-day leisure, security and personal freedom that I enjoy – to defend and protect me and my country. And for that I always say "thank you" whenever I see a member of the Armed Forces.
But there’s something that happens to me when I explain to my three-year old daughter why we’re saying "thank you" to a complete stranger. It happened at the Memorial Day parade, and it happened today in the grocery store. I get choked up. Tears well in my eyes, a lump forms in my throat, and my voice wavers with emotion. This doesn’t happen when I greet a Serviceman or Servicewoman alone. Rather, this only happens when I’m with my daughter.
I’m not entirely sure why, but there’s something in the telling, in the teaching of such a moment that provokes an emotional reaction. Perhaps at such moments I recall my grandfather, who served in the Marines in the ’20s and ’30s and was a loyal Marine until his death at age 89. Or, perhaps their example of service, honor and courage is enough to overwhelm me, and something that I want to inspire my daughter.
Either way, I am grateful to all who serve or have served in the Armed Forces. Please accept my "thank you" (and please excuse my damp eyes, lumpy throat, and wavering voice).