This Veterans Day feels harder than any other I can remember. The tragedy at Fort Hood and the spate of shootings in the week since, combined with the loss of so many of our Fort Lewis soldiers since the summer, has made today a difficult day. There have been so many lives lost and families destroyed, just in the past two weeks, that it’s hard to sit at my desk on this day and not feel that it’s a betrayal of what this holiday is supposed to mean.
To be honest, Veterans Day has never been on my list of “real holidays.” I have no family or friends in the military, and the two wars we’re fighting have touched me in no direct way. I’ve lost no one. I’ve missed no one. I’m very thankful for that.
However, not having that direct connection has made it difficult to understand the challenges our soldiers and their families face every day. I can’t imagine what it’s like in Afghanistan or Iraq right now or how horrible it must be to spend months, even years, away from a spouse or children. I can’t imagine being in such a dangerous place, knowing I might never come back. I can’t imagine what it’s like to lose close friends in battle or not to know if the next road might be lined with bombs. I can try to understand, but the true reality of those situations is beyond my experience.
But, our soldiers are facing all of those things right now. That such brave people exist is truly remarkable. I couldn’t do it and I’m in awe of anyone who can. So, to all the soldiers out there and to all of their families, I’m sending a heartfelt thanks. Thanks for all the hard work you’ve done and continue to do. Thanks for volunteering your body and your heart so that the rest of us can go about the nonsense of our ordinary lives. Thanks for your sacrifice. Thanks for your strength. Thanks for your courage.