Some of you may know that I spent some time at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado as an Active Duty Air Force cadet. In that time I came to a new understanding of what it meant to love my country, to be proud of my job, and be willing to give it all up so that others may live in freedom. I’m no longer affiliated with that institution, nor do I hold any current ties to the military.
However, I do have friends there. I have friends in Colorado, Florida, Arizona, Kansas, and all of the other States. I have other friends that are in the Middle East, or on a boat on an Ocean somewhere. All of these friends are in the profession of arms, they are the professional fighting men and women that serve our country without asking for more than some shoes to wear and some food to eat. I also know that they don’t get much more than that.
In the Vietnam era, our country was fighting a highly unpopular war. The country was more or less in revolt about our involvement in that conflict and hated everything attached to it. So it was no surprise when riots welcomed home soldiers returning from the fight of their lives, shouting their slogans and hatred at the men and women who had put their lives on the line to do as their country had asked them to. This concept rocks me to my core. I understand the politics around our current military engagement and I say forget about those details. You don’t have to support the war, but I think you should support the men and women that are serving our country. That doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy cell phones for every soldier or even offer to make a dinner for the family while the soldier is away. It’s as easy as saying thank you.
I’ve found a simple thank you to be one of the most meaningful gestures that anyone has ever offered to me while I’ve been in uniform either for the Air Force or for the United States Air Force Auxiliary, Civil Air Patrol. Immediately following the tragedies of 9.11, I can remember people opening doors, buying meals, and saying thank you for my service. I felt embarrassed at the time because I didn’t think I deserved the thanks but they weren’t thinking of me, James Connors - it was the uniform, the soldiers they were thanking. Now, six an a half years after that day, we’re starting to forget about those soldiers that are still away from their families and friends. We’re forgetting about the men and women holed up in the sand. We’re overlooking those people that are fighting for their lives in a battle to keep our country free from fear and terror.
So, this is what I ask: please go to the website, www.gratitudecampaign.org and watch the video. Then, the next time you see those whom have been fighting for your rights and your freedom, give them the sign. It doesn’t take words or grand gestures. You don’t have to buy their lunch or write them letters. Just give thanks in any way you can, as simple as a sign.