The Blanket of Freedom
The other day my daughter and I met for a bite to eat and some chat time. As we entered the front door, a Marine in full dress uniform caught my eye.
"Wow," I said to my daughter, almost walking into a table, "whoever designed those uniforms should be designing clothes for civilians as well. We need someone who can get the kids away from those belly shirts and pants worn so low I don't want to know what's holding them up."
My daughter laughed. She's over thirty and can afford to laugh at such fuddy duddy comments made by her mother.
When we got settled at our table, I felt bad for temporarily reducing the Marine Corp to a statement of fashion. After I caught my breath, I mean, I'm old enough to be his…older sister; I started to think about what these men represent. As the Jack Nicholson character so eloquently said in the movie, 'A Few Good Men,' these men guard the walls. We sleep beneath the blanket of the freedom that they provide.
I wonder how many of us, as we climb under our covers each night, think about the fact that we can go to sleep without fear, that we live in a country with liberty and justice for all. We are free to speak, to worship, to vote for our leaders…we are even free to disagree with how our country is being run and most importantly, free to do something about it.
Sure, our leaders have made decisions we disagree with especially when it comes to defending democracy. We all have opinions on the morality and purpose of each war as we wait for history to record which ones were right. But the men and women who stood on the wall did so without question, without doubting the orders they were given. America's soldiers held that wall for us, right or wrong.
Every year in November we devote a day to honoring our soldiers and veterans as well as remembering those who gave their lives. But when I think of those men and women who died for our country, I also think of their families, their friends and the dozens if not hundreds of people who are affected by each and every death. I wonder what one day a year means to children who have lost their parents or to parents who have lost their children.
In the movie Shenandoah, James Stewart plays farmer Charlie Anderson, a widower with seven children caught between the north and south during the civil war. After losing several of his children to the war, he speaks at the grave of his wife, his words choked with tears. "There's not much I can tell you about this war, Martha. It's like all wars, I guess. The undertakers are winning it, the politicians talk about the glory of it, and the old men talk about the need of it. And the soldiers, well, they just wanna go home."
So, this year, on Veterans' Day and every day that follows, I will pray that all the soldiers come home…and soon.
I know that bringing them home will not end all wars. If history has taught us anything, it has taught us there will always be wars. But this year as I climb into bed on the eve of November eleventh, I will dream every one home, even if just for one day.
As my daughter and I got up to leave, I walked her to her car and gave her a big hug, holding on an extra second because I didn't want to let go.
"Thanks for supper, Mom," she said as she got into her car. "Give my love to Dad. See you next week!"
It was as simple as that. See you next week, Mom. And I know we will. I know we will because she sleeps under the same blanket that I do, that all Americans do, the one that the Marine and his comrades so bravely gave us, the blanket of freedom.