Friday, July 03, 2009
I bought a new American Flag today to replace the faded and tattered one that hung on the front porch. I recall a particular 4th of July in 1995 when we buried my sister Gail. Later we went to watch the fireworks on the beach in her honor in Gulfport, MS. So this holiday is a special two-fold one for me. While hanging the flag, I'm so mindful of the sacrifices so many have made in order for us to cherish the freedoms we have in this great land called America. My brother, Orville, lied about his age and fought in the Korean War when he was only 17. Just a baby, I think, especially when I relate that age to my own son when he was 17. I know now why my mother cried every single day until his safe return. Post-traumatic stress shadowed him the rest of his life.
In the first days of the war in Iraq, our son-in-law, then Captain Bobby Lee Christine, (now Major Christine), an Army National Guard JAG officer, left our daughter and three children behind when his guard unit was called up. His unit was attached to the First Marine Expeditionary Force. That's Bobby in the picture while in Iraq. We were petrified but knew that Bobby was honored to serve our country, and he believed in their mission. His own father served in Viet Nam and received several Purple Hearts, returning to the States after three tours of duty, minus an arm and a leg. After Bobby's return, he spoke at the Right From the Heart Gala and Auction for our pastor, Bryant Wright's radio ministry, which raised money to send his sermon CD's to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. As he spoke that night, there wasn't a dry eye in the ballroom while he talked about his time in Iraq, the hardships and his strong faith in God. We are so proud of Bobby and he has more medals and honors than I can list here and knowing him, he'd be uncomfortable that I'm saying anything now. He never talks about his accomplishments. That's the way most soldiers are. He is still a JAG with the Army National Guard, and besides being an attorney, he's a Judge in Augusta, GA and very active in his community and church.
Since that time, I have so much more respect for our troops and the shattered lives that has touched so many, all in order to keep our freedom on this soil. So I honor them this 4th of July.
Harsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta is one of the main hubs for our troops returning to the States, and it's one of the most moving scenes you'll ever see when they arrive. I feel fortunate to have been able to witness this first hand. Atlanta has become famous for how people stop and honor troops and welcome them back home. Perhaps you've seen Atlanta's airport featured on the nightly news welcoming troops. We even do that when it's just one lone soldier. I'm telling you, it will bring tears to your eyes, and make you proud of our men and women who serve in our Armed Forces.
As our country continues to struggle with foreign issues even now, and strive to keep those freedoms we hold dear that we received in 1776, I'm reminded to pray for our nation, our leaders, and our allies...but most of all I pray for our men and women in uniform everywhere.
So why don't you take time to salute a soldier along your trails...
at 7:06 PM