Last weekend I helped with an Operation Military Kids Day in Baltimore, MD for the families of recently returned soldiers (or heroes, as I like to call them). It was an honor and a pleasure to be a part of this day, and get to know some truly wonderful kids. Several of them had to go a year without seeing their mom and/or dad. Many of the soldiers missed Christmas, their children's birthdays, and several more simple times we often take for granted like their children's first karate class, first book report, first homecoming dance and many more.
It is incredible what these heroes are willing to sacrifice for our freedom, our safety and our future. I have been studying literature of the 1960's and have learned a great deal about the poor treatment of soldiers upon their return from the war. I am so thankful that there are organizations and programs that are devoted to honoring our veterans of the past and present, to let them know that even if we may not agree with war, we are thankful for their bravery.
Often we honor the veterans for their heroic acts, but it is important that we recognize the bravery of the families they must leave behind, as well. At the risk of sounding cliche, one of my greatest role models and personal heroes is my mother. She not only is the spouse of a veteran who almost became a widow while stationed in Germany, but every day she works toward bettering the lives of the families of our soldiers. As the Program Coordinator for the Operation Military Kids in Delaware she facilitates programs, retreats and activities for the children of our heroes serving overseas and on American soil. It is easy to forget that while a soldier is risking their life in a foreign country, that their children and spouses are also sacrificing each and every day.
Last weekend I was able to speak to the teens and tweens about what life was like while their parents were gone, and what life has been like since their return. Many of these young children had to learn to cook, clean, take care of their younger siblings, give up some of their favorite activities and simply grow up. Some lived in fear that they might not see their parents again. Some shared that they even wished for their parents to come home every time they saw 11:11. They, too, were battling and because of that- every single military child is a hero in my book.
So today I ask you- What makes a hero? Because I have seen heroes come in a million different packages. Some negotiate peace treaties with foreign countries; some are brave enough to tell their classmates they wear a wig because they have Alopecia; some are brave enough to get back on the basketball court even though this time, it is in a wheelchair; and some help their dad make dinner because their mother is fighting in Iraq.
Have a blessed day everyone!