Monday, November 11, 2013

We owe our veterans

What went through that young Marine's mind as his landing craft neared the beach?  He had found himself in the South Pacific, so far from his home in Rhode Island, facing an enemy he didn't know, an enemy that had attacked his country at Pearl Harbor. 
Like so many his age, including his brothers, he had put his life on hold, to defend his countryman. 
The front of the craft opened as they hit the beach. The young Marines rush ashore, directly into enemy fire. 
Many were hit, including our Marine from Rhode Island. 
The pain must have been unbearable as his clothes caught fire from the flame thrower. Only the courage of his comrades would save his life. 
He would spend a year in the hospital, with multiple skin grafts. He would receive Last Rites several times, but somehow, he would survive.
The scars would remain forever, and yet his children would not notice them. They would only see his inner beauty. 
He would marry and raise 6 children , including his writer. He would teach them more by example than word. He would teach acceptance of others, regardless of race, color, or creed. He would teach that all men, all women, have dignity. 
And his story would be repeated a million times with variations. It would be repeated by his brothers to their children. It would be repeated by those a who pulled him to safety, by others who have served and continue to serve, who he never knew, because this young Marine's story is remarkable, but it is not unique. 
It is the story of those who are willing to pay the intimate price. 
So when I'm discouraged, or tired, or when I wonder if fighting for what I believe in, what my father believed in, that all people should be treated with dignity, whatever their color, creed, race, sex, sexual preference, occupation, or social position, or anything else that makes them different from me, is worth the effort. When I wonder if it might not be easier to give in and let the people of privilege run things, when I wonder if I can make a difference, when I wonder if my brother of color, or poverty, or addiction, or homelessness, has a chance, I think of that young Marine, and what was going thoroughly his mind as he neared the beach. He must of had doubts, he might have been tired, he was probably scared. 
But he did not waver. 
His comrades did not waver. 
I must not waver. 
We must not waver. 
We owe it to them. 
We owe it to ourselves. 
I owe it to my dad. 

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