In honor of Memorial Day, I'm going in a little different direction today
than usual. As many people across the nation honor our fallen heroes for
their sacrifice, it seems many others are just happy to have an extra day
off. Regardless if you're working or relaxing today, let's take some time
to reflect on the many blessings we have in this great country.
I've been fortunate to have traveled around the US and visit some other
countries as well. Two places I've visited in the past few years stand out
in my mind quite vividly. The first is my recent trip to Guatemala where
the topic of the Catholic priest's homily at a parish in a poor indigenous
town was the importance of helping those less fortunate through charitable
giving. to a congregation of poor, indigenous field laborers! What a
reality check. While we're consumed by higher fuel prices, a slumping
housing market, and a weaker dollar, others are too poor to notice the
difference. Yet, they're being reminded that it's through selfless giving
that our lives are truly enriched.
The other really powerful experience I've had on a trip is the Changing of
the Guard at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. In the
silence of our country's most sacred ground, each clicking step of the
soldier standing guard punctuates his duty to fellow soldiers and all of
us they protect. The honor, fortitude, and commitment of these elite men
can't be summed up in words. When given the option to stand down from
their post during Hurricane Isabel (while the rest of D.C. had long been
evacuated), the Old Guard chose to continue their 24/7 vigil at the Tomb
of the Unknown Soldier. in the middle of a hurricane!
There really are a lot of great places to visit and enjoy around the
world, but there's no doubt in my mind that it's a blessing to have been
born in the United States. As I drive around the area seeing neighbors
preparing their fields for another growing season and kids playing in
their yards, I'm reminded how fortunate we really are.
I'm proud to be an American and lucky to have grown up in rural Wisconsin.
Thanks to all of you and your family members who've defended the greatest
country on Earth. It's through this service that we are able to enjoy the
freedoms and blessings that we sometimes take for granted. Let's not just
remember our servicemen today. Next time (and every time) you see a
soldier or veteran, go up to them and say a simple "Thank You for Your
Service". I'm sure they'd reply that they're 'just doing their job'. But
after all, it's because of them that we're able to do ours.
Happy Memorial Day! -- Tom
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