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A Call to Service

A Call to Service

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. It is humbling today to think of the sacrifices many have made for our country, for our way of life, for our very existence. While I always try to thank those in uniform for their service, those who have served often are never recognized on the street and never fully thanked or appreciated. Today and every day, I offer my heartfelt and profound gratitude for those who served our country in the armed forces.

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.

~ John F. Kennedy

I have watched with great sadness the harsh and angry words of the ideological differences dividing our country. It further disheartens me when I see that the one day set aside to honor veterans is clouded by these political trials and tribulations. So, today, I wanted to take a special moment to offer my words of appreciation to Veterans and thoughts of peace and accord for the nation.

It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy course; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.

~ Theodore Roosevelt

What makes a person want to become a soldier? What gives them the courage to leave their families and friends and willingly devote their lives to the causes of a country? The answer, I believe, resides in the heart of every human. Haven’t we all felt a greater calling to something—a cause for which we would die? A task which strengthens us, defines us, and challenges us? Whether you choose to be a soldier, a parent, a marathoner, an Olympic athlete, or a teacher, it is a choice to better yourself and your world. Soldiers choose a path to become stalwart, courageous, and sacrificing. While I know there are many who do not believe in all of the causes our military is tasked to defend, I would hope everyone can at least appreciate the noble and selfless nature of their acts, understanding their defining and challenging moments are for the country in which we live.

Courage is almost a contradiction in terms.  It means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die.

~ G. K. Chesterton

When I speak to those who have served, I often am humbled and inspirited by the reason behind their choice. It is a calling like any other. Some people feel a call to heal or to write or to preach. In our own ways, each of us has been called for something. Even if you do not agree with the impetus or substance of another’s call, surely you must appreciate and respect the desire, passion, and fervent nature of a calling. While we can commiserate in the internal longing and depth of passion attendant to those calls, the call to service is unique. A soldier is willing to die for and defend the life of someone whom they have never seen and never met. Their call to service comes not from love of self but for the love of many. Their call is dangerous, unnerving, and unwavering.

It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.

~ Father Dennis Edward O’Brien, USMC

I have witnessed the lamentations of those hoping for the first female President. In that vein, let me show you a few of the women who inspire me and who, years before, proved the strength, tenacity, and courage of women in the fight for justice, equality, and freedom–women who fought and served alongside men and shored the foundation of liberty.

How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!

~ Maya Angelou

sessionsMarguerite M. Sessions, Nurse, United States Navy. From her daughter:

“Marguerite Sessions was a Navy nurse during WWII and met my father who was a marine who was her patient at Great Lakes, Illinois.  They met and were married about a year later and November 28th would be their 70th Anniversary.  They had a long and happy marriage raising five kids and instilling in all of us love for our country, commitment to service, and tremendous respect for those that serve in the military. As a result, two of my brothers enlisted in the Navy during the Vietnam War seeing action on the Macon Delta. They brought home with them a new view of the world loyalty and honor for having served our country during that difficult time.  My father died at age 50 when I was six years old, and my mother, through the strength gained not only from her parents but also through her service in the Navy, raised her five children with the grace of an iron butterfly.

morrisSusan Morris, United States Navy 1994-1999

“Growing up, both my dad and stepdad were in the Air Force. As a child, it was hard to continuously move around, but it was my family’s life. I remember thinking when I was younger, I will never be in the military, but when I got older, I realized there was more than just moving to be in the military: Love of Country, Pride, learned confidence, lifelong friendships, and earned free college education, just to name a few. I’ve been asked before if you could turn back time, would you do it again. With no hesitation, my answer would be, ‘Hell Yes!’”

drayton2                   drayton1

Denise Drayton, United States Army, 1988-1993

“Reason for joining…my dad. I wanted to be just like him. He was my hero.”

johnson

Christine Johnson, civilian Naval employee, and husband, William, U.S. Navy

“I was in charge of setting up and running events around Houston that promoted the recruitment of active duty Navy personnel. There was a certain pride working with the Navy. My husband, Will, was an aircraft mechanic and was part of Desert Storm and the Iraq war. He was at sea when 9/11 happened. He says he’d have stayed in after retirement, if they had let him.”

In their own ways, each of these women heeded a call to serve the military and others. They were role models for other young women on the value and honor of hard work, dedication, and sacrifice. I am proud to call each of them and their families, my friends. They move me to be better, to try harder, and to honor my own call for my life.

Happy Veteran’s day to all of you who have served. Thank you for your sacrifice, your commitment, and your love for our country. Thank you for your call to serve.

No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

~ John 15:13