Perhaps it seems a bit ironic that I sit here writing this while living in another country. But it’s absolutely relevant and important.
I am a daughter of the American Revolution. I have used genealogy to trace my roots back to Virginia in the mid 1700’s – before the American Revolution began. Which means I had ancestors that fought and died hoping they were fighting for something better than what they had. They died not knowing what would come next. They died bloody awful deaths not by machine gun weapons and drones – but by blunt swords and by gaping wounds that medicine didn’t yet know how to heal. And these men and women didn’t know when they died what would become of the loved ones left behind. But they must have thought it was better to die fighting than to leave the world they knew as is.
I have prayed and thanked them today. I pray they hear me and I pray they see their lineage now and know that our lives ARE better for their sacrifices. That the world they fought to create – while it isn’t perfect – it is safer, more just, more loving, and free.
Free enough that I can choose where in the world I want to live. And though I don’t choose to live in the United States at this time – the mere fact that I have such a freedom, and by being American am welcome in most parts of the world, speaks volumes to sacrifices made by so many.
I watched this sunset last night and thought of you all. Pondered what it must have been like to die in battle. Wondered if you feared. Wondered if you felt loved. I watched this sun set and wished you peace and harmony wherever your soul lies today. I watched and wondered what your last sunset was like.
So, to my fallen family, to my grandparents before me, to the family of every fallen soldier that ever fought:
Thank you. I hope you hear me. I hope that not only on this day, but all days, as we drive our cars to work and make 1000 choices every day, as we eat food we choose, as we raise our children in safe neighborhoods – that you see us. That you see us and know your painful sacrifices were worth the price you paid. Those children laughing and dancing and playing ball are only because you made way for freedom.
To my grandmothers who were left widows to raise gaggles of children on their own – I salute you too. You sacrificed too – I see you. And as a mother I cannot imagine how you went on. I can only hope the village of widowed women gathered together. But I know you went on with courage because our family would not exist today if you had given up. You give me strength. You give me choice. You give me hope. The 1700’s were no joke. I can’t begin to fathom the challenges you all faced in a world so tough. Thank you. Thank you for kissing your husbands and brothers goodbye as they walked away to certain death. Thank you.
And to the hundreds of thousands of men and women that fought in following wars – your sacrifice it seems cannot be repaid. I suppose the only way to “repay” is to vote and continue to advocate for peace and make the best choices we can to further our free America. I think as we drive through our safe suburban neighborhoods, and drop our kids off at large expensive schools and then -without hesitation or worry of being hurt- take ourselves to work to earn money to support our lives that we ought to remember more often those who gave their lives so we could live ours in peace today.
Personally, I only knew one soldier that was killed in action. Marine Sgt. Byron Norwood. Seeing up close the devastation his family endured after his death was heartbreaking to say the least. It gave to me a new understanding of sacrifice and began my journey to learn more about my own family’s wartime sacrifices. Thank you Byron. The enemy killed you that fateful day – but you have not died. Your family makes sure of that. You live on in your nieces and nephews to come. You live on in conversation and dreams and in your mother’s heart. As do all the fallen.
America may be littered with inequalities, lingering racism, corrupt government, and a host of other indecencies. But it is America. It is a place of continuous change and development. It is a place where votes count (no arguing on this one, its not perfect, I know) and voices can be heard without lives being lost. This would not be possible without wars before us and fallen fighters. My prayer is that we can continue to seek justice in our country while less and less lives are lost or tortured or maimed in the process.
Thank you for my freedom to choose where I live. Thank you for fostering a better world for my daughters and their daughters to come. Thank you for being courageous. Thank you for watching over us. I see you in the stars at night and in my dreams. I see you in my children’s laughter as they play in the streets without fear. And I see you in the American flag.