To the brave men and women


I wrote this military tribute a couple years ago. I was at work one day just thinking about the drastic differences of my life compared to that of someone who serves in our military. Thank you is never enough.

 

Thank You Isn’t Enough
Copyright 2012 Chris Martin

It’s a typical morning. My dreams dissolve into the sound of two little girls running up and down the hallway. Birds chirp outside the window as golden sunlight trickles in through the half-open blinds. Wiping the sleep from my eyes, I greet my wife with a kiss and stumble into the kitchen. With the press of a button, frothy hot liquid pours into my mug. The aroma brings a smile to my face.

Thousands of miles away, a young man sits on the damp earth, trembling. Bombing continued throughout the night, shaking the very ground beneath him. His eyes burn from lack of sleep. He grips the M16 rifle across his lap with both hands as his thoughts drift away to a normal life he can barely remember. Tears dampen his face as he recalls the last words his mother spoke to him right before he left.

After hugging the wife and kids, I walk downstairs to my office, carefully sipping my coffee.  I sit in a very comfortable chair waiting for my computer to boot up so I can begin my work day. I look outside and watch in wonder as the day comes alive. Reaching beyond the trees, a hawk soars across the crisp blue sky that seems to go on forever. He dips toward the horizon where sky reaches down and kisses the earth.

A husband and father of two glances up, wishing the sun would break through the smoke and haze that surrounds him every moment. He ties the laces on his boots as he prepares for another day of work. He has been selected to go on patrol. They will search the face of everyone they meet, looking for signs of friend or foe. Two weeks ago, one of their own was killed when a thirteen year old boy tossed a grenade across their path. He pulls out a picture of his wife and two little girls and imagines what it would be like to hug and kiss them.

I answer the phone with a smile. It’s the tenth call of the day. I talk jovially about the weather and the customer’s favorite football team. After twenty minutes of troubleshooting, the problem is solved and we end the call. I document everything in my ticket and decide it’s time to take a break.

A mother of four speaks softly, but with authority as she directs several families to leave the building. Within minutes there will be nothing left but a pile of rubble and ash.  It’s a suspected safe house for anti-American extremists and it’s targeted for destruction. The innocent women and children are being ushered out before the order is given to launch the attack. She urges them forward; the gun in her hand speaks louder than her words. There’s no time to take a break.

I’ve put in my eight hours and now it’s time to go upstairs and create everlasting memories with my family. There is a choice to be made. Chicken or hamburger for supper. We decide on chicken and I fire up the grill. Thirty minutes later, we’re sitting at the table eating and talking about our plans for the weekend.

A young girl, just three years out of high school stares at the scene before her. Her training never prepared her for this moment. On one side of the road, a small child screams in terror as wild dogs attack. On the other side of the road, rebel forces hold a pregnant woman at gunpoint. There is a choice to be made. Try to save the child, ignoring the fact he might be wired with explosives or go for the woman which would undoubtedly draw an onslaught of gunfire.

I lay on my bed, warm and safe, thinking about what tomorrow might bring. The children have fallen asleep after watching TV in their room. The neighborhood is quiet with only a gentle echo of crickets in the distance. In another country, far from safe or warm, men and women are giving their lives to protect the very things I take for granted on a daily basis.

One of my favorite movie lines comes from Saving Private Ryan. With his dying breath, Tom Hanks pulls Matt Damon close and whispers, “Earn this.” He had just given his life so that Private Ryan could leave the war and go home to his grieving mother who had just lost three other sons.

Whether we agree with the politicians in Washington or not, we need to earn each and every second we are given by the brave men and women sacrificing their freedom so we can enjoy ours. They are the ones who allow us to sleep in peace at night. They are the ones who allow us to get up every day and earn a living. They are the ones who answer the call and drop everything to serve their country with dedication and pride.

Thank you isn’t enough.

When a Soldier Cries (re-post)


I wrote this military tribute last year, and posted it on my blog. If you strip away all the politics, all the speeches, and all the nonsense, what are you left with? Boots on the ground. There will always be men and women fighting wars, spending many nights away from their families. I’m not into politics at all, but anyone who sacrifices what these brave souls do, has my respect. Please share with anyone you know who is serving, or has served in our military. Tell them thank you, even though that isn’t truly enough.

Here are a couple more I’ve written in the past:

The Letter

Thank You Isn’t Enough

When a Soldier Cries
Copyright 2013 Chris Martin

A tattered picture, nearly faded to white
Faces of the ones for whom a soldier fights
In the empty silence of a world so far away
On the rocky ground, the only place to lay

A father dreams of home, family, and friends
In war, there is no guarantee he will see them again
Thunder roars with fury, lightning burns the darkened skies
The mighty angels shed a tear, when a soldier cries

She walks across the street, a young child stands alone
Memories haunt her dreams of the daughters she left at home
She tries to smile, show happiness through the tears
Although she wants to help, the child retreats in fear

At night she dreams of home, bedtime hugs and kisses
She prays to one day have again, everything she misses
She can still see their faces as they spoke their last goodbyes
Nothing can soothe a heart, when a soldier cries

In the pouring rain he stands guard, rifle in hand
Just two years out of high school, his parents don’t understand
He wanted something greater than just video games and fun
He dedicated his life to become more than just an ordinary son

A young man dreams of home and wishes upon a distant star
The letters are few and far between, only time can heal a wounded heart
In the gathering shadows, just beyond where the unseen lies
Those who have gone before, bow their heads when a soldier cries

The growl of crunching metal, searing heat and flames surround
Voices of the wounded, silent screams that have no sound
She left college early and signed up to answer the call
Now lying in the wreckage, she wonders if it’s time to give it all

The young woman dreams of home, but she doesn’t surrender to the fear
She knows if they’re alive, they will come back and find her here
Chaos and confusion, in a place where hope and fate collide
She fights for every breath, there’s no shame when a soldier cries

They stand in single file, one hand raised to touch their brow
Men and women, young and old, bound together by a sacred vow
Silently they watch as each car drives slowly past
A beautiful flag covers every casket, heroes returning home at last

Mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, bravery at its best
Defined by the unselfish act of sacrifice, courage passed the ultimate test
With a will stronger than iron, nerves of steel and no compromise
There’s nothing to give but respect and honor…when a soldier cries

Let Us Remember


Independence Day always stirs within me thoughts of young men and women who have sacrificed so much throughout the timeline of history. From a young boy with trembling hands griped tightly around his one-shot musket, to the girl, just barely out of high school, clutching an M16. No matter what era or battle, it takes something special to be a solider. I’ve always had much respect for people who sacrifice. Those who give up something for another human being. The Bible says there is no greater love than for a man to lay down his life for another. Regardless of my beliefs on war, there are everyday people fighting on foreign soil, separated from their families and loved ones, and for that we owe them respect.

I wrote When a Soldier Cries last year, and wanted to share it with you today. Have a safe and happy July 4th holiday.

When a Soldier Cries
Copyright 2013 Chris Martin

A tattered picture, nearly faded to white
Faces of the ones for whom a soldier fights
In the empty silence of a world so far away
On the rocky ground, the only place to lay

A father dreams of home, family, and friends
In war, there is no guarantee he will see them again
Thunder roars with fury, lightning burns the darkened skies
The mighty angels shed a tear, when a soldier cries

She walks across the street, a young child stands alone
Memories haunt her dreams of the daughters she left at home
She tries to smile, show happiness through the tears
Although she wants to help, the child retreats in fear

At night she dreams of home, bedtime hugs and kisses
She prays to one day have again, everything she misses
She can still see their faces as they spoke their last goodbyes
Nothing can soothe a heart, when a soldier cries

In the pouring rain he stands guard, rifle in hand
Just two years out of high school, his parents don’t understand
He wanted something greater than just video games and fun
He dedicated his life to become more than just an ordinary son

A young man dreams of home and wishes upon a distant star
The letters are few and far between, only time can heal a wounded heart
In the gathering shadows, just beyond where the unseen lies
Those who have gone before, bow their heads when a soldier cries

The growl of crunching metal, searing heat and flames surround
Voices of the wounded, silent screams that have no sound
She left college early and signed up to answer the call
Now lying in the wreckage, she wonders if it’s time to give her all

The young woman dreams of home, but she doesn’t surrender to the fear
She knows if they’re alive, they will come back and find her here
Chaos and confusion, in a place where hope and fate collide
She fights for every breath, there’s no shame when a soldier cries

They stand in single file, one hand raised to touch their brow
Men and women, young and old, bound together by a sacred vow
Silently they watch as each car drives slowly past
A beautiful flag covers every casket, heroes returning home at last

Mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, bravery at its best
Defined by the unselfish act of sacrifice, courage passed the ultimate test
With a will stronger than iron, nerves of steel and no compromise
There’s nothing to give but respect and honor…when a soldier cries

For Them


Since it’s Veteran’s Day, I wanted to put links to four tributes I’ve written for our troops. They are all on my blog, but instead of having to search through so many posts, they will be right here in one convenient location. Most of you may have read them, but let’s keep our troops in mind today. Not only those who have served courageously in the past, but also those serving today.

When A Soldier Cries

The Letter

The American Soldier

Thank You Isn’t Enough

 

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Have a blessed day

Nothing but Respect


I was never in the military. I never served multiple tours in Afghanistan. I’ve never had to spend sleepless nights in a bunker somewhere on the other side of the world listening to continuous gunfire and explosions. I’ve never had to spend months or years away from my family wondering if I would ever see them again. I’ve never spent holidays and birthdays alone, far away from the ones I love the most.

Unfortunately, there are many brave men and women who have, and who are still serving right now. I have the utmost respect for anyone who lives a life of sacrifice. True heroes don’t wear capes, football pads, or memorize scripts for the silver screen. The true heroes in this world wear dog tags, a shield on their uniform, rush into burning buildings to save lives, and stand in front of a classroom full of kids who don’t respect them.

I’ve written several things in honor of our troops. I can only imagine the feelings, thoughts, and emotions they endure. I hope in some small way, the words I write in their honor will convey that there are people all over this world who truly respect what they do. A simple “Thank you for your service” is great, but I don’t think it’s ever enough. The American flag is stained with the blood of those who have given their lives to protect the freedom we so often take for granted. Don’t let their sacrifice be in vain.

With Veteran’s Day quickly approaching, I wanted to share one of my personal favorites out of all I’ve written for the troops. It’s a poem entitled “When A Soldier Cries” Please feel free to share this with anyone you know who is serving or has served in the past.

When a Soldier Cries
Copyright 2013 Chris Martin

A tattered picture, nearly faded to white
Faces of the ones for whom a soldier fights
In the empty silence of a world so far away
On the rocky ground, the only place to lay

A father dreams of home, family, and friends
In war, there is no guarantee he will see them again
Thunder roars with fury, lightning burns the darkened skies
The mighty angels shed a tear, when a soldier cries

She walks across the street, a young child stands alone
Memories haunt her dreams of the daughters she left at home
She tries to smile, show happiness through the tears
Although she wants to help, the child retreats in fear

At night she dreams of home, bedtime hugs and kisses
She prays to one day have again, everything she misses
She can still see their faces as they spoke their last goodbyes
Nothing can soothe a heart, when a soldier cries

In the pouring rain he stands guard, rifle in hand
Just two years out of high school, his parents don’t understand
He wanted something greater than just video games and fun
He dedicated his life to become more than just an ordinary son

A young man dreams of home and wishes upon a distant star
The letters are few and far between, only time can heal a wounded heart
In the gathering shadows, just beyond where the unseen lies
Those who have gone before, bow their heads when a soldier cries

The growl of crunching metal, searing heat and flames surround
Voices of the wounded, silent screams that have no sound
She left college early and signed up to answer the call
Now lying in the wreckage, she wonders if it’s time to give it all

The young woman dreams of home, but she doesn’t surrender to the fear
She knows if they’re alive, they will come back and find her here
Chaos and confusion, in a place where hope and fate collide
She fights for every breath, there’s no shame when a soldier cries

They stand in single file, one hand raised to touch their brow
Men and women, young and old, bound together by a sacred vow
Silently they watch as each car drives slowly past
A beautiful flag covers every casket, heroes returning home at last

Mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, bravery at its best
Defined by the unselfish act of sacrifice, courage passed the ultimate test
With a will stronger than iron, nerves of steel and no compromise
There’s nothing to give but respect and honor, when a soldier cries

 

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Have a blessed day

When A Soldier Cries


My latest. This one is called When A Soldier Cries.

When a Soldier Cries
Copyright 2013 Chris Martin

A tattered picture, nearly faded to white
Faces of the ones for whom a soldier fights
In the empty silence of a world so far away
On the rocky ground, the only place to lay

A father dreams of home, family, and friends
In war, there is no guarantee he will see them again
Thunder roars with fury, lightning burns the darkened skies
The mighty angels shed a tear, when a soldier cries

She walks across the street, a young child stands alone
Memories haunt her dreams of the daughters she left at home
She tries to smile, show happiness through the tears
Although she wants to help, the child retreats in fear

At night she dreams of home, bedtime hugs and kisses
She prays to one day have again, everything she misses
She can still see their faces as they spoke their last goodbyes
Nothing can soothe a heart, when a soldier cries

In the pouring rain he stands guard, rifle in hand
Just two years out of high school, his parents don’t understand
He wanted something greater than just video games and fun
He dedicated his life to become more than just an ordinary son

A young man dreams of home and wishes upon a distant star
The letters are few and far between, only time can heal a wounded heart
In the gathering shadows, just beyond where the unseen lies
Those who have gone before, bow their heads when a soldier cries

The growl of crunching metal, searing heat and flames surround
Voices of the wounded, silent screams that have no sound
She left college early and signed up to answer the call
Now lying in the wreckage, she wonders if it’s time to give it all

The young woman dreams of home, but she doesn’t surrender to the fear
She knows if they’re alive, they will come back and find her here
Chaos and confusion, in a place where hope and fate collide
She fights for every breath, there’s no shame when a soldier cries

They stand in single file, one hand raised to touch their brow
Men and women, young and old, bound together by a sacred vow
Silently they watch as each car drives slowly past
A beautiful flag covers every casket, heroes returning home at last

Mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, bravery at its best
Defined by the unselfish act of sacrifice, courage passed the ultimate test
With a will stronger than iron, nerves of steel and no compromise
There’s nothing to give but respect and honor…when a soldier cries

marine crying

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Have a blessed day,

Chris

The Letter


My dearest love,

I can’t even put into words how much we miss you. Each day passes by as if the clock on the wall has come to a grinding halt. Horrible as that is, the nights are even worse. I toss and turn for what feels like an eternity. It’s just not right without you by my side. I hold your pillow tightly because there remains a faint scent of the aftershave you use. I cry because that smell is fading all too quickly. I know it sounds stupid, but it’s the only tangible thing in this house that makes me feel as if you’re here.

Sometimes I scream out your name and complain that life isn’t fair. I try not to, but I yell at God because of the pain I feel inside. Even though I do it, I know it’s not right. I just can’t help it. I’m tired of crying all day when I think about you. I’m tired of sobbing at night before I lay down in another useless attempt to sleep. I just want this pain and loneliness to go away and never return. Is that too much to ask for?

I know you told me not to, but I watched the news again last night. I was hoping they might show your face, or at least mention your name, but they never did. It’s as if the world doesn’t care what is happening over there. Sometimes I feel like no one truly appreciates the sacrifices that are being made so we can continue to enjoy freedom. I get so tired of hearing “Thank you for your service” or “Thank you for your sacrifice”. I know some mean it, but the majority feel like they have to say it. How can they possibly know what I’m going through if they haven’t been there themselves?

I’m sorry. It wasn’t my intention for this letter to turn into a sob story of everything I’m going through. It’s not like you don’t already know all of this.

Jimmy took his first steps today. It was so amazing. Oh, how I wish you could have seen that. The look on his face was absolutely priceless. I got it all on video, so I can embarrass him when he’s a teenager. He’s such an amazing kid. I can already tell he’s going to be like you. Tender heart. Glowing smile. Never quit attitude. He’s so strong for such a little thing. Sometimes I wonder if he will follow in your footsteps. Part of me hopes not, but another part would be so proud. I can’t imagine anything more fulfilling than having a son who wants to be just like his father.

Your mom called today. It’s still difficult to talk with her. She bought some maternity clothes for me, and some more stuff to put in the nursery. It nearly kills me to know that you won’t be here for the birth of our daughter. I know we discussed the things we might have to sacrifice when you enlisted. I guess deep down inside, I just never thought we would actually have to endure them. Sometimes I wish things were so different, but yet I know that everything you’ve done over there matters.

I will end this now before I get more tears on the paper. I was going to rewrite everything on a clean sheet, but I changed my mind. I want you to know how much you are loved and missed. These tears come from a place so deep in my heart where you will always be. Yes, sometimes it’s a dark place filled with more pain than I can imagine, but most times, it’s beautiful because of who you are.

Never forget, I will always love you. Thank you for being the hero you are and an example of a good person that our children can follow after.

I love you,

Your wife.

Standing in the crisp, fall air, she folds the letter and returns it to the envelope that was never mailed. Tears stream down her face as she stares at his grave. The headstone stands out like a white pillar against the backdrop of bright red and yellow leaves scattered across the ground. A stirring breeze tickles her skin, and she smiles even through her tears. She can feel his presence in the wind, and it warms her heart.

She looks around at hundreds of similar headstones and shakes her head. So many who paid freedom’s ultimate sacrifice lay beneath the carpet of brown earth. Mothers, fathers, daughters, and sons. The fallen warriors who willingly gave up their own freedom to fight for strangers.

Once a week, she walks into Arlington National Cemetery and reads the letter aloud. It was the last one she penned to her husband who was serving in Iraq. As a family, they gave up so many hopes and dreams in order for her husband to serve. While it was never easy, they both believed in the higher purpose, the bigger picture of what it meant to fight for something. He missed his son’s first steps and the birth of their precious daughter, but she knew he was smiling down on them from Heaven.

Footsteps approach and she turns as five year old Jimmy walks up behind her. She wipes her tears and smiles. Over the years, she’s learned how to put on a brave front for her little boy. He holds a small American flag in his tiny hand. She nods, and he walks over, placing the flag in the ground next to his father’s headstone. He reaches out and hugs the white monument that represents his daddy.

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I can’t imagine what it must be like to go through anything close to what I’ve just written. I have the utmost respect for the men and women who are currently serving or have served in the military and their families. The sacrifice of so many soldiers echoes throughout history, and is carried on today by those who hold up the red, white, and blue and say no one is going to take this away.

Make sure to follow me on Twitter and/or Facebook by clicking on the appropriate link to the right. Thanks!

Have a blessed day,

Chris

The American Soldier


Since before and after the birth of our freedom, men and women have given their lives in sacrifice for this country. I won’t lie, our country is in a world of hurt, full of sin and despair. That, however, doesn’t change the fact that there are still brave men and women today who answer the call and put on that uniform. I wrote this for them and their families…for those brave souls presently serving and who have ever served in the military. It’s called The American Soldier.

The American Soldier
Copyright 2012 Chris Martin

In the fading sun, you can see them standing tall
The fearless men and women, unafraid to risk it all
So far away, they fight even when it doesn't make sense
While we sleep inside the safety of our white picket fence

A father sits in silence, a wrinkled picture in his hand
With each tear that slowly falls, he prays they understand
They are his world, but sometimes life keeps them apart
He gently touches each face, as the pain consumes his heart

A mother holds her breath, smoke and chaos all around
When the bomb exploded, it knocked them all to the ground
An innocent boy, caught in the middle, lying broken and all alone
She picks up her rifle and thinks about her son back home

Each day goes by, one more closer to the end
Sometimes they aren't even sure, if they will make it home again
They cast aside the fear and doubt, there's no time to be afraid
If duty calls for sacrifice, they will wear honor all the way to the grave

A son trembles as the darkened sky flashes under the attack
He knows they're counting on him, to always have their back
With determination that stems from the very soul of a warrior
He continues forward, step by step behind his brothers

A daughter holds a young girl's hand, tries to gently calm her fears
So many children wander with nowhere to go, dirty faces washed with tears
She holds her close and whispers that everything will be alright
Nothing will stop her from keeping the little one safe tonight

Without hesitation, they leave everything behind for the cause
They rush headlong into the battle, when most might stop and pause
They give up the comforts of an ordinary life
And lay it all down, in service, to protect our rights

From wars that have come and gone, the crimson stains run deep
Memories of the ones we lost, now resting in eternal sleep
Their legacy lives inside the very backbone of the red, white, and blue
Raise Old Glory high, everything they sacrificed was for me and you

Through the history of time, men and women have always answered the call
Promised to never give up, even when some of them fall
They took an oath to defend the constitution against enemies of any kind
But no matter what the cost, they will never leave another soldier behind

When you kneel at your bed and say those prayers tonight
Remember the ones, a world away, who continue to fight
Fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters join together as one
They carry the cry of freedom into the shadows of a fading sun

Make sure to follow me on Twitter and/or Facebook by clicking on the appropriate link to the right. Thanks!

Have a blessed day,

Chris

What If…


What if we stepped out of bed every morning with purpose and a desire to make a difference in someone’s life besides our own.

What if we stopped complaining about our Starbucks order being incorrect and bought a meal for the homeless guy standing on the corner with no shoes and a cardboard sign.

What if we stopped blaming inanimate objects for the violence we see in this world and started taking our responsibility as parents seriously.

What if we put the needs of others in front of our own.

What if we gave until it hurt instead of just enough to look good.

What if we turned off the amplifiers, microphones, and smoke machines and just listened for God’s still, small voice.

What if we stopped looking at the color of a person’s skin and started realizing we all bleed the same shade of crimson.

What if we started fixing the person in the mirror instead of those on the other side of it.

What if we looked into the eyes of the outcast and the loner instead of looking through the eyes of society.

What if we put our trust in God and not in the number on our bank account statement.

What if we realized that salvation is a gift born from sacrifice, grace, and mercy and not the result of anything we can accomplish.

What if we actually lived out our Facebook status.

What if Jesus wasn’t only talking to the rich man in Matthew 19:21.

What if we said yes to our children and no to overtime at work.

What if we took the time to listen to someone’s story.

What if we quit talking and singing about how Jesus wants us to live and actually started doing it.

What if the true heroes of this world, like the single mom with three kids, the father, husband, wife, mother, son, and daughter fighting for this country, or teachers were treated with the same admiration and respect as athletes and actors.

What if we replaced racism, hate, jealousy, and pride with love.

What if we stopped killing babies and gave them the right to chose the path they wanted to take in this life.

What if we prayed for the murderer and rapist on death row instead of wishing they would suffer a horrible death. (Matthew 5:44)

What if we stood in the gap for the lost, lonely, homeless, and hurting instead of standing on the sidelines.

What if Jesus had decided that He didn’t want to endure the most horrific pain and suffering imaginable for people who don’t deserve any of it.

What if you knew you had one day to live.

What if you lost everything…all your possessions, your family, your health, your money, your job security, your friends…would you still love God?

What if…

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Have a blessed day,

Chris

Daily Thought (May 30, 2013)


Today is Thursday, May 30 2013.

Haven’t posted this in a while, and since Monday was Memorial Day, I figured it was a good time. This is something I wrote several years ago in honor of the men and women who are serving and have served our country. It’s called Thank You Isn’t Enough.

Thank You Isn’t Enough.

It’s a typical morning. My dreams dissolve into the sound of two little girls running up and down the hallway. Birds chirp outside the window as golden sunlight trickles in through the half-opened blinds. Wiping the sleep from my eyes, I greet my wife with a kiss and stumble into the kitchen. With the press of a button, frothy hot liquid pours into my mug. The aroma brings a smile to my face.

Thousands of miles away, a young man sits on the damp earth, trembling. Bombing continued throughout the night, shaking the very ground beneath him. His eyes burn from lack of sleep. He grips the M16 rifle across his lap with both hands as his thoughts drift away to a normal life he can barely remember. Tears dampen his face as he recalls the last words his mother spoke to him right before he left.

After hugging the wife and kids, I walk downstairs to my office, carefully sipping my coffee. I sit in a very comfortable chair waiting for my computer to boot up so I can begin my work day. I look outside and watch in wonder as the day comes alive. Reaching beyond the trees, a hawk soars across the crisp blue sky that seems to go on forever. He dips toward the horizon where sky reaches down and kisses the earth.

A husband and father of two glances up, wishing the sun would break through the smoke and haze that surrounds him every moment. He ties the laces on his boots as he prepares for another day of work. He has been selected to go on patrol. They will search the face of everyone they meet, looking for signs of friend or foe. Two weeks ago, one of their own was killed when a thirteen year old boy tossed a grenade across their path. He pulls out a picture of his wife and two little girls and imagines what it would be like to hug and kiss them.

I answer the phone with a smile. It’s the tenth call of the day. I talk jovially about the weather and the customer’s favorite football team. After twenty minutes of troubleshooting, the problem is solved and we end the call. I document everything in my ticket and decide it’s time to take a break.

A mother of four speaks softly, but with authority as she directs several families to leave the building. Within minutes there will be nothing left but a pile of rubble and ash. It’s a suspected safe house for anti-American extremists and it’s targeted for destruction. The innocent women and children are being ushered out before the order is given to launch the attack. She urges them forward; the gun in her hand speaks louder than her words. There’s no time to take a break.

I’ve put in my eight hours and now it’s time to go upstairs and create everlasting memories with my family. There is a choice to be made. Chicken or hamburger for supper. We decide on chicken and I fire up the grill. Thirty minutes later, we’re sitting at the table eating and talking about our plans for the weekend.

A young girl, just three years out of high school stares at the scene before her. Her training never prepared her for this moment. On one side of the road, a small child screams in terror as wild dogs attack. On the other side of the road, rebel forces hold a pregnant woman at gunpoint. There is a choice to be made. Try to save the child, ignoring the fact he might be wired with explosives or go for the woman which would undoubtedly draw an onslaught of gunfire.

I lay on my bed, warm and safe, thinking about what tomorrow might bring. The children have fallen asleep after watching TV in their room. The neighborhood is quiet with only a gentle echo of crickets in the distance. In another country, far from safe or warm, men and women are giving their lives to protect the very things I take for granted on a daily basis.

One of my favorite movie lines comes from Saving Private Ryan. With his dying breath, Tom Hanks pulls Matt Damon close and whispers, “Earn this.” He had just given his life so that Private Ryan could leave the war and go home to his grieving mother who had just lost three other sons.

Whether we agree with the politicians in Washington or not, we need to earn each and every second we are given by the brave men and women sacrificing their freedom so we can enjoy ours. They are the ones who allow us to sleep in peace at night. They are the ones who allow us to get up every day and earn a living. They are the ones who answer the call and drop everything to serve their country with dedication and pride.

Thank you isn’t enough.

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Have a blessed day,

Chris