I woke up this morning thinking about Memorial Day and the meaning behind it, as well as my own connection to the recent wars and those who served. I thought about writing, but the day got busy and Facebook is saturated with "Happy Memorial Day" posts and outdoor celebrations, so I figured there was no need for another post about the day. I spent most of today enjoying beautiful weather and had a great time exploring Manhattan with the pups... getting a bit lost at times, and honked at by disgruntled locals who had little patience for my TX license plate and confusion about which way to turn.
I'm back at the apartment and ready to crash after a long day, and yet I can't rest. I can't let this day pass without sharing my gratitude for those who have sacrificed it all so I could have a carefree day in the sunshine like I did today. This day is the reason I joined the Army, it is the reason I love this country, and it is a day that makes my heart swell with pride for the selfless men and women who gave us what we freely enjoy on a daily basis.
There was a time during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars when I was so frustrated and disgusted by what was happening that I felt ashamed for being a part of it. I hated that I was training men to go into a war which I felt they were not prepared for and there was no clear reason for putting their lives at risk besides having an order from our President.
By the time I left the Army I hated it. They offered me promotions and bonuses then attempted to intimidate me into signing another contract by sending me higher and higher up the chain of command until I finally sat across from an Army General and told him that if they handed me one million dollars cash right then and there I still wouldn't sign the contract. There was nothing else they could offer. I was DONE.
Fast forward seven years and I'm driving across the United States by myself as a single woman, meeting people who are kind, supportive and happy to help, friends willing to take me in with my two big dogs, and feeling freedom in its truest sense. I've been listening to the radio as I drive and hearing stories of girls who are kidnapped from their school in Africa and women who are beaten for speaking out politically in Egypt and Iran -- I am remembering what makes this country so incredibly amazing and unique.
There is no doubt that we are far from perfect. But, as a whole, we have opportunities and freedoms that people around the world only dream about.
And, today, as I stood at the site of the twin towers and remembered those who lost their lives on 9/11 as well as the soldiers who have lost theirs in the years since, I am inspired and humbled by the strength and courage and resilience of our country and our service men and women.