I know this is a little bit late as today is July 10th, but please keep in mind that I was abroad on the 4th of July and missed the festivities altogether. (No, no, please do not feel bad – I don’t, I was on a beach in Tahiti). All joking aside, catching up on everyone’s posts and the 4th of July news in general made me think back to 2007.
My younger brother is in the Navy, and back then he was on a 9-month stint in the Middle East. I think about this with pride because I am humbled by my brother’s service, but more importantly it reminds me of something that he expressed during this time. He sent our mother an email regarding Memorial Day, but the sentiment and message hold true for this time of year as well. I hope that you will take a moment to read his words (which are posted below with his permission) and understand that we should not take for granted what others risk their lives to give us.
I WAS THINKING ABOUT WHAT TO DAY IS AND I CAME TO REALISE THAT ITS WEIRD BEING ON THE OTHER END OF THINGS. MEMORIAL DAY IS ABOUT TAKING A DAY TO REMEMBER ALL THE MEN AND WOMEN WHO HAVE DIED DEFENDING THE COUNTRY AND ITS BELIEFS AND TO REMEMBER THOSE WHO DO NOW, ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO ARE OVER SEAS AND CANT BE HOME. I CAME TO THE CONCLUSION THAT ABOUT A YEAR AGO I KNEW WHAT THE HOLIDAY WAS FOR BUT IT WAS MORE JUST FOR GOOD BARBEQUES AND GOOD WEATHER. I TOOK IT FOR GRANTED. BUT NOW I REALIZE THAT SO MANY PEOPLE TAKE IT FOR GRANTED. BUT NOW THAT I’M THE ONE OVER SEAS ACTIVELY SERVING OVER SEAS I FEEL WEIRD LIKE I TRULY REALISE WHAT IT’S ABOUT. THIS MORNING WE HAD A MAJOR LUBE OIL LEAK ON MY AND ABOUT 5 OTHERS WATCH. THIS WAS AT 3 IN THE MORNING. I WAS COVERED IN OIL BECAUSE I WAS HELPING CONTAIN THE LEAK. AND WE AVOIDED A FIRE THAT WAS ONLY MOMENTS AWAY FROM STARTING AND WOULD HAVE KILLED ME AND ABOUT 4 OTHERS. CHAPS GAVE A SPEECH TONIGHT ABOUT HOW AS ARMED SERVICE MEMBERS WE SACRIFICE SO MUCH TO GIVE THE PEOPLE BACK HOME FREEDOM. TODAY 5 OF US AVOIDED A CASUALTY THAT COULD OF KILLED OR PREVENTED NAVY SAILORS FROM GETTING HOME TO SEE LOVED ONES. ALL THIS AND IT IS STILL MEMORIAL DAY. NOW TO US THAT’S DOING OUR JOB. NOTHING MORE. WE COMBATED CLEANED UP AND WENT BACK TO WORK LIKE NOTHING HAPPENED. MOST PEOPLE AT HOME AREN’T EVEN AWAKE. I GOT MANY EMAILS TODAY FROM FRIENDS AND FAMILY ABOUT THE BARBEQUES AND THE BEER AND THE GOOD TIME TO COME WITH TONIGHTS COOK OUTS. BUT TO THEM ITS A COOK OUT AND A GOOD TIME. I JUST HOPE PEOPLE REMEMBER US OUT HERE SERVING AND REMEMBER THAT ITS NOT JUST A COOK OUT. AND REMEMBER JUST HOW MUCH WE WISH WE COULD BE HOME. YOU KNOW I DONT LIKE HOLIDAYS BUT I ALWAYS LOOKED FORWARD TO MEMORIAL DAY AND THE FOURTH OF JULY. NOW I KNOW WHY.
Please remember that there are people out there fighting while we are celebrating and enjoying our daily lives. They (and their families) sacrifice so that we have these freedoms. If you would like to send a package or a letter to someone serving overseas, please check out www.anysoldier.com or any other similar site to connect with those serving overseas. When my brother was overseas, I used to send packages to him and others that I did not know through this site because for me it was a way to honor him.
I hope that everyone had a happy July 4th.
(“Haze Gray and Underway” is my brother’s favorite Navy saying and refers to naval surface warships at sea. It is also used to refer to life in a vessel at sea.)