Saturday, December 1, 2012

Be Part Of The Military Family These Holidays

I come from a military family.

My grandfather worked in intelligence during World War II. To this day, I am not sure what all of his duties included or what his actual contribution to the war effort was. I just know he spent time behind enemy lines collecting  information, and we won the war.

His wife's brother, Henry, my great-uncle, also served in that same war. He charged a machine-gun nest, taking several bullets to the abdomen. That machine-gunner met his maker that say. My great-uncle made it home.

My father was a Marine in Vietnam. He almost died there one night. However, the bullet with his name on it went wide, impacting into a sandbag.

I went to Iraq four times. Four times I returned.

Is it by pure luck, divine design, destiny, or some gene in the blood that allows some to go to war and return while  others do not?

There are days I'm left to ponder why some give it all to complete the mission and make it back home just to be ignored. I further wonder why we feel guilty about it. Other days I wonder why some gave it all, including their lives, so others could complete the mission, and are regaled as heroes.

These thoughts reverberate during the holiday season. Those who have never served may not comprehend the term "military family". It is a term of honor. It is a term that extends beyond a single generation. It is a term that extends beyond a nuclear family, intermingling with the blood of others. It is of siblings born of blood and fire, not common parents. It is a family of love, not just of kin, but of this country and its founding ideals.

Some of  the best holiday seasons I've had were not with family of blood  and marriage. They were spent among my fellow Soldiers. My last Yule in Iraq is among them. There, half the world away from blood relatives, I sat with my team mates, my brothers. We joked and  jibed. We drank coffee and near beer. We smoked cigars. We exchanged gifts. We acquired some steaks and other food, and we grilled it. We ate.

Those are some of my best memories, away from home, everybody putting forth efforts of brotherly love to make it seem as though home was not half a world away.

This year, I challenge everybody to remember the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines. I challenge you to do something for those military families that are overseas, unable to make it back stateside to the rest of their families. I challenge you to do something for those Military Heroes who are deployed away from even their nuclear families, who are doing what they can to make home not seem so far away. I also challenge you to do something for those families whose Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines are away -- so they do not miss them so much. I double-down on that challenge for those families whose Military Hero won't ever again physically join them at the table, having paid that ultimate sacrifice.

 With Christmas, the most popular of the religious holidays, still 24 days away, and Hanukkah still a week off, some may wonder why I post this now. It is because time is running out for those who accept the challenge. Their are postal deadlines among other "hit-times". 

What you do can be a small as a prayer, a sign, a yellow ribbon. It can be a couple of cards. It can be donations to the USMC's Toys For Tots. It can be a donation to the local military post's Chaplain's Food Bank. It can be an open door to a couple of trainees at your local post who couldn't make it home that year. It can be a smile, and a "thank you". It can be care packages sent through "Adopt-a-Platoon" or "Soldiers' Angels".

Most of all, it can be just enjoying the freedom you have under that First Amendment, part of the US Constitution that those brave military men and women swore an oath, willing to give their lives, if necessary, to support and defend, against ALL enemies. Have a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, or a Blessed Yule. Wish the same onto all other Americans. Do it for them, so they know their sacrifices, toil, efforts, losses, and wins are not wasted.

Blessings upon you and yours.