Sunday, November 16, 2008

"Old-Fashioned"....It's the New Cool

A few weeks ago, I wrote: "There are times in life when words are useless, they can be wastes of the very breath it takes to form them." Veterans Day has come and gone. I did not forget. It has been on my mind for several days. I have not written about these great patriots before now because honestly, I just couldn't find words to do them justice. I felt that nothing I could say would be useful.

Then, I read what Aubrey Anderson thought about it all. She is sixteen years old, and mature beyond her years. Aubrey makes me feel hopeful for the future. If who she is now is any indication of who she will be in the future, I am okay with our country being left in the hands of young people like Aubrey. She is a leader today.

She wrote the following about her experience on Veterans Day:
I just wanted to give my eternal thanks to all of those men and women who have risked their lives for the better of our country’s citizens. To me, this is one of the most selfless acts of service that anyone can ever perform, and it sickens me when people don’t appreciate what these veterans have done for us, or when they take it for granted.
Today we had an all school assembly where we had several veterans talk, and we honored some of the veterans that were invited to the assembly. We watched two videos that one of the administration from the District had created—they were both very good. I couldn’t help but almost be moved to tears when the orchestra played ‘God Bless America’ as an extremely large American flag was lowered down to be suspended above the stage. Applause and standing ovations were used multiple times, but to me, that just wasn’t enough. I wish there was something more I could do to show how greatful I really am. It was a huge disappointment to look around and see my fellow students clapping half-heartedly, or not standing up when we should have. “Do they not understand what an honor it is to celebrate this day,” I thought with much confusion in my mind. “Shouldn’t they at least act grateful? Isn’t that the least they can do?” I later asked my friends how they enjoyed the assembly, a large majority thought it was a waste of time or thought that it was annoying how much we had to clap. Once again, isn’t that the least we can do for these incredible people?
Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I do believe that this day should be full of patriotism for our country and our armed forces. I’m a firm believer of the “if you don’t stand behind our troops then feel free to stand in front of them” attitude because without this bravery our country would not be the way it is today. Now, I’m not saying that my opinion is the correct one on the matter and that you’re wrong if you don’t believe what I believe, I just feel that everyone could at least recognize what a blessing it is to have our veterans.
Thank you all those who have served our country!”

We can learn much from this young lady.

As I reflected on Aubrey's words, I began to find my words. I don't know that they will ever do justice to our Veterans, but I will know I tried. My family has been given the miraculous opportunity to be part of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center family. I understand that to some, this may not be viewed as a miraculous anything. But then, those people have not walked the paths my husband and I have. There is no doubting that the hand of God lead us here.

Believe me. There are reasons we are here, many of which we may never know. But one thing is certain, being here has changed us. I am more aware of all I have to be grateful for, small things that just three years ago I would have overlooked. Our patience has developed. We are less quick to complain and more inclined to give thanks for even the most minuscule of blessings in a day. We will never again live in a home that does not have the American flag flying out front. Why? Because we love this country, with all of its flaws and imperfections, we love it. And we are thankful to be here. Veterans have taught us these lessons.

Veterans have given my children an understanding of lost limbs and the countless struggles that tragedy brings with it. Yet in the very same lesson, my children learn that courage and perseverance will triumph over tragedy every time.

I will never forget Chloe saying to a Veteran: "I really like your hook. It's super cool, can I touch it please?" This was during one of our first visits to Walter Reed. It would take a few more visits before I was completely comfortable there. I didn't know what to do. I felt my cheeks blush, and I wanted to apologize for her. The kind gentleman responded: "Of course you can sweetie. Do I remind you of Captain Hook?" The two of them went on to have a lovely conversation. In that moment I realized, no apologies necessary. This soldier was thrilled that my daughter was eager to know more about him. As odd as it sounds, I think it made him feel better about his hook.

I am thankful my children have been blessed with opportunities to become comfortable around people whose bodies are not exactly like ours. They are neither fearful, nor do they shy away from these wounded warriors. I am thankful that at young ages, my children understand the tremendous and selfless sacrifices soldiers make for our country.

I appreciate Aubrey's thoughts. I am grateful for her values system, and the parents who teach her. I feel, like Aubrey, that it just seems as though we don't do enough. I don't want anyone to forget. I want the children of this nation to understand. Aubrey, I must be old-fashioned too. You know, I really like old-fashioned. In fact, I think we're on to something and I've just decided it's the new cool.


KC Mom said... everyone can see why I'm so lucky to have Aubrey in my seminary class. It's no secret...she's special. I agree with you about Veterans Day. I've never felt like it was enough and don't know that I can ever be grateful enough for what our soldiers have done for us. I wish I had the innocence and purity that your Chloe has.

Sue said...

Yesterday I went to a fireside where a young man from our ward spoke about his experiences in Iraq. (He just returned.) In listening to him, my heart was filled with gratitude for his considerable sacrifice in putting his life on the line to serve our country. These men truly deserve our heartfelt thanks, and not just on Veteran's Day!

Good post. (And good for Aubrey, too!)

Kim said...

We had a great celebration here at Alyssa's school. The children invited all veterans that they knew and sang songs like God Bless America to honor them. Each veteran left with a stack of heartfelt letters from the children thanking them for their service. It was very sweet and emotional to hear 700 children say the pledge and sing the Star Spangled Banner together with gusto and enthusiasm! You would have appreciated it as much as I did!

Carly said...

Wow. Can Aubrey be my baby-sitter? She's got a good head on her shoulders.
We can never be thankful enough for the vets and their families for doing what the rest of us need, but can't bring ourselves to do, because that's what protecting our freedom is really about!

Jared said...

Just about every day I meet at least one more of our injured war heroes who stood or stands in harm's way for my family to be safe, while protecting innocent civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I am disturbed by the fact that our war heroes, those with and without injury, are still not properly respected by our society. In fact there still remains open disrespect for their service. I know our liberal media has played a hand in this indifference and open disrespect. I suppose that others feel it is their right to speak out against our military....well, yes it is, thanks to those who fought for our freedom of speech.

It seems interesting that those activists never DO much of anything to promote peace. They are rarely community leaders who serve the homeless and stand up for domestic atrocities all around them. They are the first ones to cut and run when anything is asked of them....great American citizens, right? I agree that they should live the life of a soldier on the front lines for just one day. These people would rather criticize.

Unfortunately, our media is all too willing to listen. This is at the expense of the respect for and the morale of our selfless American soldiers and veterans. Believe me, they hear the comments and feel the condescending looks. I think that the rest of us have enough common sense to see through the lies we are told. We recognize the sacrifices that continue to be offered for us.

The stories of brave military members are ongoing. Even today some of our Americans will be hurt and possibly killed defending a defenseless people. Whether or not we believe in the cause, the Iraqi/Afghani people and our troops require our support. They did not start the war. They are doing their duty and protecting the innocent.

I am equally proud of people like Aubrey, who stand up for something that may not be cool, yet....but definitely right. Thanks Aubrey