My dad is a veteran. So is my brother, four of my uncles, my father-in-law and my nephew. Needless to say, the Brumbaugh family is a flag-waving, prayer saying, God-and-country kind of family. And we’re proud of it!
So with Veteran’s Day approaching, I’ve had one particular question on my mind. How do I say thanks for such a gift? I mean, really. What is an appropriate thank-you gift for laying one’s life on the line, so I wouldn’t have to?
A nice floral arrangement, perhaps? Or a cookie bouquet? How about lifetime gym membership?
Hmmmm . . . all those things sound nice enough. But they just don’t quite measure up to the level of sacrifice offered by our men and women in uniform. I’ve racked my brain for a more appropriate gesture, but the truth is, there really is no way to adequately thank our veterans. There’s no way to thank their families. Their commitment is too great; it simply can’t be matched.
But as I thought about this issue, something occurred to me. Though we can’t possibly match a thank-you sentiment with their sacrifice, there is one thing we can do, to show our appreciation.
We can live.
Let me explain. Of course, if you are reading this, you’re alive. But so many of us experience life without really living it. We get up each day and lock ourselves into robot mode. We go to work. We do our jobs. We come home and watch the news. Then we go to bed, only to wake up the next morning and do it all again. And that, my friends, isn’t really living.
I’ll bet there’s not a single veteran out there who’d tell you he put his life on the line for a bunch of robots. No sir, not a one of them. Our veterans put themselves in harm’s way so people like you and me could live life to the fullest. These men and women gave up peace of mind and the comforts of home. Many of them gave up their health. And some . . . yes, some gave their lives.
And the reason they did was so we could sleep soundly at night, without worries of bombs or guns or war right outside our windows. They did it so we could have parties and laugh and talk about whatever we want to talk about.
They did it so we could vote.
They did it so we could go to church, wherever we want.
They did it so we’d have the freedom to experience the gamut of life’s highs and lows and in-betweens.
So, how can we say thanks?
By living, my friends. By loving and showing kindness and compassion and grace and mercy to our fellow man. By making it a point to bring a smile to the face of everyone we meet. By taking advantage of the fact that we live in the greatest nation on the face of God’s green earth, in spite of our problems, in spite of our disagreements. By remembering that we are blessed.
We celebrate those blessings every time we choose to let a car cut into a line of traffic, every time we run around in the yard with our kids, every time we call a friend, or cheer at a football game or go fishing or enjoy a manicure or pedicure or simply invite our neighbors over for Bar-B-Que.
We celebrate our freedom every time we pray, every time we enjoy a heated political debate, every time we do so many of the things that have become commonplace in this country. Yes, every single time we exercise our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, we thank a veteran.
After all, my friends, they offered their lives so we could do those things.
So to my daddy and my brother and my uncles and my nephew and my father-in-law and all my dear, dear friends in the military, I want to say, Life is good.
“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends,” John 15:13.