What I'm Especially Thankful For on Thanksgiving: The Military
Growing up, I had a relatively limited range of interaction with members of the military.
Granted, I had high school acquaintances in ROTC. I read with great interest about the courage, loyalty and selfnessness of countless members of the military after the unforgivable attacks of 9/11. I've always looked up to all branches of the military with the utmost admiration.
But I didn't have many good friends who served. None of my close family members did, either. I haven't really had the opportunity to regularly interact with members of the military and their families - until recently.
In a little more than a month as social media manager at Grantham University, I've had the opportunity to engage with some amazing people who have really helped me put what really matters in life into perspective: the security and freedom of this country.
It's for that reason on this Thanksgiving, my favorite day of the year, I'd like to share what I'm particularly thankful for: members of the United States military. From the Grantham family to the many GU students who are either active or retired military, we'd like to sincerely say thank you.
It was a little more than two weeks ago when I spoke to the mother of a military service member on the phone. She called to check on the status of an order she placed with GU. Really nice lady with a noticeable charm. In five days, her son would be returning from serving overseas in Iraq. We didn't talk for long, but it took all but five minutes to notice how excited she was to welcome her son home, after not seeing him for months.
Here in the U.S., we have the luxury of enjoying secure walls on a daily basis. When I see my family near the Dallas area for Thanksgiving, I'll take part in the American traditions that have come to define our society: family, football, food and shopping.
But this year will be a bit different. This year, I will take part in those luxuries with that five-minute phone call with the mother of the honorable military member at the forefront of my mind. It's because of the sacrifice of those brave souls that I have the opportunity to fly from Kansas City to Dallas and spend the holiday with those closest to me.
After that five-minute conversation, I hung up the phone and stared into blank space for a few seconds. The conversation will stay with me for a long time. What they go through on a daily basis - the military member and the mother - are both unfathomable and incredible to me.
It's been both an educational and inspirational journey while interacting with military members and their families, and writing numerous blog entries with military ties fresh in mind. In a little over a month, we've already celebrated the U.S. Navy's birthday, the U.S. Marine Corps' birthday and Veterans Day.
Two weeks ago, a man in front of me at the grocery store was paying for a Marine Corps' birthday cake. He had the jacket on and everything. Full-fledged prideful marine. I walked over to him and briefly said, "Happy Marine Corps birthday, and thanks for everything you do." He politely nodded and said, "Thanks, and you're welcome." Before my first day at GU on Oct. 10, I'm pretty sure I didn't know the date of the Marine Corps' birthday.
Yesterday, at the airport, a U.S. Army soldier sat next to me in full uniform on the way from the economy parking lot to the terminal in Kansas City. I relayed the same message to him, to which he humbly replied, "No problem. It's our pleasure."
My more regular interaction with military members has enabled me to appreciate what they do for this country even more, if that's possible.
This weekend, if you're traveling in the airport or shopping at the mall, acknowledge all members of the military - those in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard - and offer a simple thank you. On this day of being thankful, it's a most fitting tribute.
Upper photo credit: Eric Sorrentino, taken at Kansas City International Airport
Lower photo credit: stock.xchng
For a separate blog post about interesting Thanksgiving facts and figures, follow this link.