It was a hot summer day in Oklahoma!!! My daughter and I sat in the front yard under a shade tree praying for a cool breeze. My lawn was filled with clothes, stuffed animals, odds and ends of a young single woman's life. In a few weeks my daughter would be leaving home... again. After 2 years of college, and one year of grappling with with what she wanted to do with her life, she had made a decision. Late one night as we chatted in the living room she asked.... "What would you think about me joining the Navy?" The question hit me in the gut like a pile of bricks, but I never blinked an eye. My little blond haired, blue-eyed, girlie girl wanted to join the Navy. When she moved out of her apartment she hauled all of her belongings home and began sorting what would be kept and what would be sold. Nearly everything she owned was put in the yard sale and a few precious childhood mementos were tucked into totes and stored in the basement. It all seemed so final... Because it was. A few days after she left for boot camp my husband arrived home to a package addressed to us. Inside the box we found all of the clothes she had worn when she left, her wallet, everything. She was officially owned, lock, stock and barrel by the US Military. Looking into that box was like looking into a casket. The person she once was, would be forever buried beneath obligations, duties, discipline, and a love for her country. Not a bad thing, but simply a difficult thing for a parent to grasp. She has been in the Navy now for over 6 years.I have watched as she struggled to develop close friendships only to see those friends move away. I've listened to the fatigue in her voice from getting little to no sleep at all. I've sat at home and prayed when I knew she was sailing in dangerous waters, during dangerous times. Time and again I've thought of the day we sat out front as one by one all of her earthy possessions were sold.She has seen things and done things that she never dreamed she would see and do. She has been fortunate not to have been in the heat of the battles going on around the world, but ever present, is the awareness that at any second of any day that could change. We take so much for granted here in the US. If we really had a clue how fortunate we are, we would live our lives in a completely different way. This spring when she returned to the US from deployment we were able to spend some time with her. One afternoon while in San Diego, we visited a veterans memorial. While looking at the pictures and reading the stories she said something I will never forget....
"You know Mom I've always wondered what would drive a person to the point that they would be willing to lay down their life for their country; It's something I never understood. After being to all of the different places I've been, and seeing all of the things I've seen, I can say that I totally get it now. We live in the greatest nation on earth and it's absolutely worth laying down your life for."
In that moment I knew for a fact that my daughter had was no longer the person she used to be... She was officially an American Hero! Today while your going about your daily business, getting your latte, sorting your mail... Take a minute to say a prayer for those who make it possible for you to go about your business. Say a prayer for those who have sacrificed their lives of comfort and ease to keep us safe. Say a prayer of thanks for those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for your freedom. We are a nation with freedoms, but those freedoms DO NOT come free!!!
|Yes, Hero's do ride elephants!|