“Thank you” doesn’t always cover it


This week we had the pleasure of celebrating our nation’s true heroes – our veterans. This is always one of the most important holidays of the year in my mind. Not because I am a veteran, but because I believe it is important that we take time to appreciate and understand the sacrifice members of the military (and their families) make for our country and our freedom.

We all know that our freedom is not free by any means. But I wonder sometimes if we truly appreciate what it would be like to not have our freedom. How many of us know what life is like with an oppressive regime? I thank God every day that I don’t.

But I also thank God every day for our country’s servicemen and women, because I know without them, we could all have to live with these horrors. We are so fortunate to live in a place where extreme poverty, violence and oppression are not the norm. My family does not fear for their lives when they walk out our front door. I am so grateful for this. And I know it’s because of the sacrifices of our military.

Life isn’t like a movie or TV show, and while I, like many, love to see the latest war movie or watch every episode of Band of Brothers, I know it isn’t an accurate picture of life in war zones. Men and women in combat don’t get a reprieve after a few hours, and the movies can’t recreate the horror or fear that our veterans go through each and every day they are in a combat zone. But that doesn’t stop the brave citizens in our military. They still show up, day after day, to protect us. They still show up to protect our freedoms. Saying “thank you” doesn’t seem like enough when you think about their sacrifices.

Around this time last year my friend and colleague, Rep. Johnny Mack Morrow from Red Bay, hosted a group of elementary students for a special Veterans Day program that included local veterans sharing their experiences.

The purpose of this program was to help drive the point home to the kids that freedom isn’t always free. That doesn’t mean we should be scared; it means we should be grateful. We all know we should be grateful, but how often do we really think about it? Only around this time each year and on Memorial Day during a moment of silence? Is that good enough? No.

The kids from Rep. Morrow’s local school learned from veterans in their community about the sacrifices made for our freedom, and how important our military is to our daily lives. We don’t all always think about it that way, but we should.

When the day was done and it was time to go, the kids weren’t just grateful, but proud. They understood how truly amazing it is to serve our country. They had a new sense of what it means to “thank a vet” on Veterans Day.

Remember that the military is something to be proud of. The incredible acts of patriotism all military personnel, veteran or active, make is something to marvel at.

From the bottom of my heart, if you’re a veteran, I thank you. Know that you are prayed for and that we are forever grateful. It’s because of you that our kids don’t know some of the world’s horrors of the past. For those currently serving, I thank you for all you give up, so we won’t have to give anything up, and I pray that the Lord will bless you and keep you safe.

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