Saturday, November 12, 2016

Freedom



December 2, 1944
England

“Dearest Mommy,”
            I went to the show tonight. I wish now that I hadn’t gone, because it made me too homesick. I went over with another married man and a single fellow. The show was about a woman who loved a man quite a lot. There was another man that wanted to marry her but she didn’t love him. She wouldn’t marry the man she loved because she was afraid the other one would kill him. So she promised the one she didn’t love she’d marry him in order to protect the one she did love. Somehow in her actions or something reminded me of you. It sure made me homesick for you. I felt as bad as if I’d just said goodbye to you. Just then the married man turned to me and said, “I wish my wife was like that and that she cared whether I lived or died; don’t you wish yours was?”
            Then before I could even answer he realized that he’d made a mistake and that it wasn’t who he thought it was. He thought it was one of the guys on his crew and had momentarily forgotten that I was there. So he said, “Yours does anyway.” So that goes to show you that the rest of the guys have been made to believe, by me, that you love me, and that I’m trying to be true to you. I don’t believe that I could take it if I didn’t believe that you loved me and that you wanted me to come back. I realize more every day just how lucky I am to ever get anyone as nice as you. You’d still be too good for me if you were only half as good as you are. It’s a lucky thing for me I was the only one left, and that all of my competitors weren’t able to dodge the draft as good as I did. But also what was my good luck was your misfortune. I’d give almost anything I had if I could just see you again right now...

-excerpt from a letter from my grandfather to my grandmother when he was serving in WWII



Yesterday Talmage greeted us with a jovial, "Happy Veterans' Day!"
He excitedly dressed in red, white, and blue and told me how some veterans would be coming to the school to eat lunch with the children. Evidently his teacher had told them that veterans have done so much for our country, but they hardly get paid anything for it.
And so, as he got ready for school, he told me that he wanted to give some money to a veteran.
For about six months now, he has been saving money from grandparents, from the tooth fairy, and from doing jobs around the house because he wants to buy Wesley a nerf gun. He carefully counted out the money he needed for the gun and found that he had 3 quarters extra.
He happily pocketed them so that he could give them to a veteran to say "thank you."

I was touched by my sweet boy's example,
and because of his enthusiasm, the sacrifices of the men and women who have defended our freedoms were on my mind all day.

I thought of them as we enjoyed a picnic lunch in the backyard. Our blanket crunched over yellow leaves from the tall mulberry tree that shades half the yard, and in the warmth of the sun we enjoyed smoothies and bran muffins as I read library books to my little ones.
It is because of them that we have public services like libraries and the ability to create our homes the way we see fit.

I thought of them as I watched my boys play soldiers--one was General Washington and the other was "Yankee Doodle." They pranced around the yard, using a tepee as their home base, as they invented their own version of the American Revolution.
It is because of them that we have these inspiring stories of bravery and heroism.

I thought of them as I baked chocolate chip cookies for the new neighbors. I considered sugar rations during times of war and the relative prosperity our nation enjoys.
It is because of them that we have the ability to choose our jobs, homes, and places of residence without constraint.

And most of all, I thought of them as I rocked my baby boy
and sang to him, "I Am a Child of God."
Because the freedom to worship as we choose is the freedom most precious to me.
And we have that freedom because of them.

And so we say "thank you" to the veterans of today and those of long ago
for defending our nation and providing us with the freedom to live our lives as we see fit.
Regardless of who leads the nation,
in spite of laws that are passed that I don't agree with,
I still firmly believe it is the greatest place in the world.

And we pray that it will ever be the land of the free and the home of the brave.


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