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Friday, July 4, 2014

Land of the Free BECAUSE of the Brave

     I've always considered myself a pretty patriotic American. I love apple pie, hot dogs, baseball, crazy 4th of july celebrations, labor day, memorial day, etc.  But in the last few years my patriotism has changed.  I think I had a very superficial outlook on these American holidays - I was patriotic because everyone was, of course you wear red, white and blue but I don't think I appreciated these holidays for what they really represent.  All of that changed a few years ago when my brother decided to become a Marine.  His decision was met with very mixed feelings from everyone who knew him, pride at his bravery and fear that if he ever got deployed he might not make it back. 

     Three months away at bootcamp with next to no communication besides an occasional hand written letter was incredibly hard on my tight knit family of 11. (Yes, it is possible to be a really close family with that many people.)  When he graduated from bootcamp, my family made the trip out to San Diego to support him and experience what it meant to suddenly be a military family.  I remember being struck by the magnitude of  the decision that all of these young men made to serve our wonderful country.  That weekend was filled with many tears, some at finally being able to see my brother, some from laughing so hard at some of his bootcamp stories but most importantly some at finally realizing what it truly means to be an American and the sacrifice that some men and women are called to give.
     Now fast forward 3 years to today, when we celebrate the 4th of July and our Independence and I can't help but think of the history of this great Nation and the sacrifices that have brought us to where we are today.  While I don't agree with every decision our government makes, or have the same views as everyone else, I can't help but feel patriotic and like one unified nation even if it's just for one day.  But more importantly I think of the men and women who have fought for our freedom and independence from the very beginning, they have valiantly given so much of themselves.  Some have given their lives, others have given up holidays and events with their families, their absence is always felt.  So I encourage all of you to take a moment today while you are enjoying your BBQs, day at the lake or just hanging with family and friends to really think about what this day means, take a moment to thank servicemen and women for what they do and what they have done.  I thank God daily for the fact that we live in an amazing country and I pray daily for the men and women who continue to serve our country to make it the free nation that it is today. 

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