Each day as I am running, my mind is racing with ideas. I am wondering about all the other people that walk or run on a regular basis. I am thinking that most of these people would enjoy the idea of honoring someone while they exercise. Basically it is all about awareness. We aren’t really aware of what others do for us because it doesn’t seem personal. Let’s say I live in the USA my entire life and never personally know one individual that serves in the military or law enforcement. I could very possibly go through my entire life never once considering that these people serve for me. The wars are usually fought on foreign soil. The crimes happen in someone else’s neighborhood and the fires strike someone else’s homes. Does this mean that none of this service stuff relates to me? I think that is how many people see it. I’ll step out on a limb here and say that many people may think police officers work just so they can catch us speeding and give us a ticket! Have you ever had that type of thought?
Why does something have to be up close and personal in our own lives before we realize it exists? Why do most of us have to benefit from something or have it sneak into our lives through someone else before we actually consider its value? I can recognize this indifference because I am guilty of it myself. I grew up in Northern Virginia. Most of my friends were military kids. Their parents worked at the Pentagon or Ft. Belvoir and they came home from work everyday wearing a uniform. Most of them moved away every three years at which point someone else would move in, enter my circle of friends, and another three year cycle would begin. During these years we were at peace at war against no one. Perhaps that is why it never struck me that military service was any type of sacrifice, or perhaps it was because I was so young and couldn’t see past my own self.
Reality hit me on the head when my oldest son made it clear that he was enlisting in the USMC. He had no interest in my plans for his college education. He has always dreamed of serving in the military and it was assumed that he would attend college first. He was 15 years old when the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were hit. It was on that day that his world changed and his plans to join the military took a shorter path. He researched every branch and finally decided that he was best suited to be a US Marine. He spent his 16th year begging us to sign the forms so he could enter the Delayed Entry Program at the age of 17. After much thought, lots of arguing, and even more prayer, the papers were signed and our son was enlisted before his senior year in high school had even begun. He spent his senior year working at the USMC recruiting office. He learned as much as possible to help him be ready for boot camp. He was on the bus to Parris Island, SC one short week after high school graduation. He turned 18 at boot camp, and celebrated his 19th and 20th birthdays while deployed in Fallujah, Iraq. The service and sacrifice of our military was no longer something for “other people”. It was real and it was rocking my world! The day my son got on the bus with his infantry platoon and headed to Iraq for his first deployment was the day that my world was forever changed.