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THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

For the last few days, my email inbox has been filled with ads for Memorial Day Sales. Take an additional 40% off here. Save up to 50% on things there. It's not just a Memorial Day Sale; it's a Memorial Day Sales EVENT! These ads are mixed in with all the other promotional emails on hosting the best bbq and the healthiest burgers to grill this Memorial Day weekend! There was a time when my Memorial Day weekend would be all about the barbecues and the shopping and that paid day off of work. I now know better. It's just the knowledge of the true meaning of Memorial Day came to me in the most unfortunate way. There have been six thousand eight  hundred and forty U.S. service members die since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. That's 6,840 families who understand the true meaning of Memorial Day. 

I used to think it was cliche to say "thank you" to a service person. I am still annoyed by people who thank me or my family for our sacrifice. A lot of that had to do with how I disagreed with the politics behind Operation Iraqi Freedom. I still disagree with the politics that send our service people into harms way. It dawns on me though that our service people do not choose where they serve. They just choose to serve. That's a pretty big commitment and sacrifice to say "hey, I'll go where ever you send me and fight who ever you tell me too." Sure they expect a few things in return like decent housing and good health care and some sort of income. It would also be nice if their family was taken care of while they are away on leave. These are simple and easy things for us to do considering that serving their country is a very dangerous job and there's a very real probability that they won't come home to that family. 

So today, I am grateful for those who choose to serve this country and who died serving this country.  Because these soldiers don't just fight terrorists, they also provide aid and medical help to those in need. They are humanitarians. They are teachers and they are protectors. There is a group of ROTC kids that go out and put flags up on every veteran grave site in the military cemetery where J is buried. There are a lot of grave sites; it's a big cemetery. They do every single one. And it's not just slap a flag up and run on to the next one thing. They ceremoniously unfold the flag and then stand at attention while it is being raised up the pole. I am grateful to these young people for their dedication in honoring and paying tribute to our veterans. I don't think they realize what it means to the families of those they honor. 

And, honestly, I am also a little grateful for the paid holiday. Cheers to you and your's and happy Thankful Friday!