I went to the park, and walked my usual two miles I try to do every morning. I had my earbuds in rocking out to some metal, when I saw an older man walking towards me.
He was clad in only a t-shirt and shorts, tennis shoes, and a ball cap, that was monogrammed with the letters U. S. M. C. across the front. He was proudly carrying the American Flag. The man also had earbuds in his ears, and I imagined him listening to something patriotic at that time. I extended my hand, to shake his, and after his firm grip let go, he gave me a knowing smile, and then continued on his proud walk.
I felt he was carrying the flag to honor his fallen brothers, recently killed in Chattanooga in cold blood. His defenseless brothers dies needlessly at the hands of yet another terrorist act. After he passed me I had hoped he understood by my handshake, and kind smile that I supported him, and his duty to remind us all that our freedom is challenged every day.
It breaks my heart that our soldiers risk their lives for us every time they step off American soil, but it upsets me more when their lives are taken right here at home. Then, if it's not someone else that ends their lives, they themselves take fate into their own hands.
There are too many soldiers who come home after a deployment, or several trips overseas, that commit suicide. No matter their personal reasons, whether it's caused by flashbacks, or severe depression, it happens.
Sometimes, when they return home life isn't what it used to be. A loved one may have passed on, or their wives cheated, or left them, or they may have had difficulty finding work after a long tour of duty. No one is immune to the effects that war can cause. Many soldiers suffer from PTSD, and different types of other mental, and physical illnesses which can make ordinary life that much more difficult to deal with on a day to day basis.
We take for granted our freedoms. We take for granted our soldiers, and veterans who are left in pain that are ignored by family, or friends. We can change that. Together, we can help those in need, someone to help them get the care, or give the kindness they need to function in society. If you see the Veterans league out at a local store, please stop and donate to them, even if it's just a dollar. Send care packages to soldiers overseas who may not have anyone supporting them. Another way to help out our Vets is to donate to the Wounded Warrior program, or purchase items that state they will donate some of the proceeds to them. If you think you can't help, you can. Even if you can't financially, go to a local VA hospital, and offer to volunteer, and the you can donate your time to help them. The smallest act of kindness goes a long way.
No matter where you are from, or where have you been, there's always a soldier who's walked more miles than you have. A veteran who has given up everything he has left in order to survive, perhaps without the use of a limb, or the ability to walk. Our brave men and women fight to make our country a better place to live. They need our respect, they deserve the respect, and they should never be made to feel they're not respected.
Many of us take for granted what do have, and forget about those who don't. We complain that we never have enough, but take the time to think about others who don't. Stop living selfishly, materialistically, hatefully, and without care to how you were able to achieve what you have. Don't forget about how lucky we are as a society to have the freedoms we have, and please remember who fought to allow us such liberties.
Remember the fallen, remember the wounded, remember the survivors. Remember the ones who came home, remember the ones who didn't. Remember those who gave their lives, and those who took it.
Above all, please remember to respect them...