What They Mean to Me

I wrote the following article in the early fall of 2003. My neighbor kid had to put together a "magazine" as an assignment for his technology class. He chose the military as his main topic, and I wrote this article to give him some content. It may seem a bit corny, but as I searched my heart for what to say, the thoughts in the article are what came to mind. We really are lucky in this country when it comes to many simple things such as taking a walk in the woods. In some parts of the world, venturing off-trail means "land-mine". In Iraq, seeing a plane fly over means you might get blown up. The "lost kid on Lake Superior" reference is true. Only a few weeks before I wrote the article a teenager spent the night in a rowboat out on the big lake until the Coast Guard finally found him the next morning.

Army. Navy. Marine Corps. Air Force. Coast Guard. What do you think of? What do they mean,? Big guns, tanks, fast planes, ships and submarines? Fighting, wining, the glory of war? What do the armed services mean, to you? What do they mean to me?

Our armed forces mean peace and security, a shield thrown up about our wonderful country. I lay my head down at night in the reasonable expectation that I'll wake up the next day. I walk with my son in the woods, never fearing a land-mine. When I see a plane, I think not of sudden death from the sky, but rather dream of trips to faraway places.

Our armed forces mean service and dedication. When fire strikes, when floods threaten neighborhoods, I see the National Guard springing into action, fighting fires, sandbagging swollen rivers, serving their fellow-man, my neighbors, me. When a child is lost on a rowboat far out on Lake Superior, I see the Coast Guard searching all night long, never slacking, dedicating their efforts to find and save the lost.

Our armed forces mean sacrifice, love of country, love of their fellow-man. My heart cries in sorrow when I hear of more deaths in Iraq. More willing-servants who have given their all for us. When I eat dinner in my will-lit, warm house, I think of the soldiers who stand guard in the desert, who might not even have hot food. I think of their families. I think of the empty chairs at their dinner tables. And I remember, and I am grateful.

Our armed forces mean duty and honor and loyalty. We civilians had the luxury of debating whether to go to war; they had no such luxury. They had to go, or not go, as their Commander-in-Chief ordered. He ordered, and they went. And they serve honorably in the face of mortal danger and constant fear.

When you lay down to sleep at night, take time to remember these men and women who aren't sleeping in their homes, who are separated from their families for your sake. When you go out with your friends, remember those fighting so that you can go about safely. When you make plans for the future, remember those who are fighting to make that future possible. Thank God for these men and women. Thank God for our armed forces.