Battle buddies from basic training.
Hot summer sun scorching while checking the sites on your rifle at the range.
Cold bitter winter wind in the early morning PT formation after a long weekend.
Six miles of ruck march stopping to change socks and bandage your blisters.
Christmas spent in some tent in the desert with your fellow soldiers.
Weeks of not speaking to family because the phones are down.
Letters from home telling of a life that seems so far away, a life you desperately miss.
Packages filled to the brim with ramen noodles because it is one of the few things that won’t be damaged in the mail.
Marching into green ramp and somehow having the discipline to not jump out of formation to run to your family that you haven’t seen in 6 months.
Coming home, to a home that is yours, but doesn’t seem that way as everything about life has changed so much.
Driving down the road and NOT swerving into oncoming traffic to avoid some trash on the side of the road that makes you immediately think of IEDs.
Life is different here. Life is good, but you still can’t help but jump at the sound of a car backfiring or fireworks blasting. After all those reactions kept you alive.
You probably had a tough time parting with your weapon you took with you everywhere.
Veteran, I probably don’t know you. But I thank you. As I write today I am in my home with my children sitting next to me. All of my family members are safe. There is no danger at our door. Because of you.
Veteran, I may not know you personally but I do know you have made sacrifice after sacrifice. You have spent countless holidays away from family and friends. You have been to war (or you have not but were always prepared to), you have experienced things I could never imagine. You have faced fears and battled demons for my little family.
Veteran, most likely I don’t know your name or what unit you were in, but you were there. You signed up just out of high school while others were talking of what college they would attend, you were wondering what duty station you would get after training… not what courses you would take.
Veteran, I know that you delayed so much of your life for my freedom. You delayed starting a family. You delayed college. You delayed starting in your civilian career. For people you will never know and faces you will never see.
Veteran, one day is not enough. One day for our country to honor you could never be enough to tell you how thankful we are.
Veteran, I thank you! My family thanks you! For everything you have gone through. For everything you lived through but will never talk about. For all your sacrifices. For all your dreams put on hold. For all you have done for my family, THANK YOU!