Many things are happening today on 11-11-11..... Birthdays, weddings, expectant mothers hoping for their babies to arrive on such a cool date as this and so on. But the most important thing that this date brings to my mind is Veterans day! My entire life some part of my small world has revolved around an army life style. My daddy has been in the Army National Guard for as long as I can remember and my brother followed in his footsteps joining the United States Army as an infantry man. This brings some good memories, some bad ones and some sad ones. My favorite memories are the ones of time spent on the base in San Luis Obispo. Many a time we went with my dad while he was serving on that base. I have very clear memories of running through empty fields finding crazy treasures, playing on tall tree stumps, sleepless nights in very small rooms, many different accommodations including camping, single person rooms, houses, condos...etc (the houses being my favorite of course), meeting a lot of loud and scary (to a small child) army men, playing in the rock stream in town, going to the COOLEST kids museum EVER and wandering around down town. The ones that stick out the most though are when my dad got promoted in rank. I don't ever remember being as proud of my dad as the handful of occasions when I got to watch this happen. I honestly have no idea what's going on half the time when it happens but the sense of pride beaming on my father's face is a site worth seeing no matter how young or old I was!
Now, when my brother joined the army, a whole new ball park of emotions came along. I was just about to turn 16. After 15 years of seeing the world through VERY different eyes, we were finally starting to get along. I liked having a big brother around who could protect me if I ever needed. The day he told me he was leaving I was very angry but i knew there was a job to be done so off he went to boot camp. A few months later we found ourselves in the miserably hot and humid state of Georgia to celebrate his graduation. This was an interesting experience to say the least! Shortly there after he made his way to Washington. We were secretly praying that he would not fall into the category of people that would be sent to relieve the groups of men who had been serving in Iraq since that awful day back in 2001. Of course, He was. So I rushed in to In-N-Out (where I was employed at the time) with tears streaming down my cheeks to ask for a few VERY last minute days off so I can go visit him before He was deployed. My boss was very kind and I still remember the words he said to me. He said, "Who am I to tell you that you are not allowed to go visit your brother whom you may never see again after this day? GO!" My mom, Dad, Twin sister and "sissy" got in my grandparents 7 passenger van and off we went! The 24 hour drive was just as long as the 24 hour visit that ended in a 24 hour drive back home. What a whirlwind! I would not have exchanged that visit for ANYTHING in the world though! Next thing we knew we didn't know where he was (other then "in Iraq") or how he was doing because war is not pretty and you can't call home whenever you feel like it. I spent many nights lying in bed praying for him and crying myself to sleep only to hope that one day I would get to see him again. I still remember the day I got "the call" like it was yesterday. I was babysitting and playing hard with 2 very rowdy little boys when my cell phone rang. It was my mom. I don't really remember what she said. She told me not to worry and then proceeded to tell me that my brother had been injured in combat. They got a call from someone saying he was in the hospital but it wasn't very bad so not to worry. Little did we know, that was not the case at all! He was very badly injured and would spend a lot more time in the hospital then we thought because he was hit by shrapnel from a hand grenade. His knee was a mess and his leg was full of the tiny little shards. They kept him at war anyways. So after a visit home, which only people who obtained purple hearts could take, and a very long end to his "tour" he was home safe. Shortly there after they discharged him honorably for his injuries and PTSD which to this day haunts him.
I am very proud to call both these people my family! As much as my brother and I don't get along and my dad and I butt heads when I was growing up, I can honestly say that I respect their willingness to give up their lives to protect mine.
My dad is not only an amazing worrier in this world but also a warrior for the kingdom of God. He has taught me more about a genuine love for Jesus then anyone else in this world has. I have never seen someone so humbly admit to their mistakes like he does and daily admit to needing more of Jesus. He is a leader, a comforter, a warrior, a teacher and a friend. I love my daddy!
So all of that to say...HAPPY VETERANS DAY EVERYONE! Honor a Vet today!