There isn’t a day that goes by that I am not thankful for my grandparents. As the summer approaches, I am even more so. Memorial Day and the 4th of July hopefully bring out that spirit in all of us as Americans.
My grandfather is a World War II Veteran. He served our country overseas, and while he was away my mother was born. I cannot imagine the sacrifice for
all of them. I cannot fathom the emotions of missing a new birth, the fear of
war, or the loneliness of a briefly started marriage full of hope. It was common then. It is remarkable for me to know that November will mark 70 years
of marriage for two people who have seen so much in their lifetime. They are
two people who have seen men walk on the moon for the first time, televisions that have colored screens, and the invention of the unimaginable “computer”. They are two people who mean the world to me and yet, who have also given me the world by their sacrifice to our country. They ask for nothing in return.
Tonight I type and think of a brave soldier lost in war who leaves behind my acquaintance and her daughter. He gave it all so that we could continue to have it all. I remember the pictures of his flag draped coffin and weep. He gave it all, and so have they.
As Guv’na of Lutz in 2009, I had the great privilege on a number of Friday afternoons of standing beside the Lutz Patriots as they waved our flag outside of the Old Lutz School on Highway 41. They are there every Friday, regardless of the weather or the date. The summers are hot at 4 pm and even hotter at 6. It is nothing compared to the heat of war, and these folks know it. They stand there merely as a reminder, so that we may never forget our soldiers who are still away from their families and our country. They will wave until there is peace. Silence. Peace.
Patriotism is a choice. It is something I choose. It is what calls me to the airport to welcome home a soldier who is now missing limbs or parts of his face so that we can be free. Patriotism is what calls me to be silent when I hear the National Anthem. It is what asks me to write notes of encouragement and thanks to our men and women abroad and donate toiletries we take for granted. I am an American, and that is my choice.
This summer, as we prepare and plan our picnics, barbeques, ballgames, and vacations, let us always remember our freedom and those who choose to make it possible for us while they sacrifice on our behalf. If you are driving up HWY 41 in Lutz on a Friday, I encourage you to beep or more preferably to stop, park and wave a flag with the Lutz Patriots. Send them a check made out to “Postmaster” at PO Box 1115, Lutz, FL 33548 or check them out at www.lutzpatriots.com so that they can mail military packages overseas and include your note to a soldier as a thanks. Let's take our hats off and stop the conversations when we hear the “Star Spangled Banner”. Good energy and prayers for their safe return are always welcome.
Folks, peace begins with, and in, each of us. This summer, I urge you to remember our soldiers and their families and that “we choose what comes out of our mouth, what stays in our head, and what lives in our heart.”
For now, choose well. Please visit us at www.illuminatedpublishing.com.