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July 03, 2010

Saying "Thank You" to Those Who Guarantee our Freedoms

Most of us will spend this Fourth of July weekend grilling, drinking beer and watching fireworks.

But how many of us will remember the men and women who make our freedoms possible? I'd like to ask each of you to consider doing two things this holiday weekend:

1. Say a prayer for the men and women of our armed forces and their families. After a long deployment, I am lucky to have my husband safely home but so many other families are not so fortunate.

2. Thank a milblogger. As I noted earlier in the week, many in the Milblogs community have paid a steep price for their service and yet they have responded not by feeling sorry for themselves but by reaching out to help others. I'm not even going to attempt a full listing, but here are a few to get you started:

CJ Grisham
Chuck Z

Stop by and say, "thank you" in their comments sections. And feel free to add to the list here in the comments at VC.

3. Take a moment to remember the cost of liberty. I will be writing more about this tomorrow but in the meantime two young Marines are celebrating the blessings of liberty in a particularly fitting manner. As Greta explains, wounded soldiers and Marines are often medevac'd wearing only the clothes on their backs - often clothing that is torn, burn, and shredded (or even cut off to allow medical staff access to their wounds). There is no time to gather up their personal belongings. On arrival at Landstuhl, these wounded warriors are greeted by a caring staff of military professionals and civilian volunteers who ensure that they are taken care of:

Crucial to Soldiers’ Angels Germany mission, is keeping a storage room full of goods to distribute to those who are there in need of medical care. Often wounded heroes arrive at the hospital after being airlifted from the battlefield. MaryAnn said to me, “What a wonderful act of love it is, to hand a hero a backpack full of comfort items, clothing and blankets that were donated by Americans back home who truly care about them.” When items arrive in bulk: such as a box full of sweatpants, a box full of blankets or a box full of calling cards, it makes it much easier for the volunteers to sort and organize the items for distribution.

Mark has decided to undertake the task of a 24 hour collection over the 3rd and 4th of July by doing a midnight to midnight vigil. He will be in his Dress Blues, standing at the Position of Attention in between an American Flag and the Marine Corps colors waiting for people to come and donate at the corner of SR 26 and Creasy Lane, in Lafayette, Indiana. While the collection efforts will continue on into the future, this will be the last day he will be out in his uniform soliciting directly to the public for donations. He has referred to what he’s doing as “Standing for the Fallen.”

Since we can’t all be in Indiana, if you would like to make a donation of goods, you may contact markatjunepalms dot com (written this way to control spam). The Marine Corps league will also accept financial donations for this project, please contact Mark for additional information.

Some might think that Mark has already done enough to serve his country, yet he has chosen to stand for long hours in his dress blues in the summer sun. Anyone who has ever worn the uniform knows it is made of wool and (although it looks sharp) is anything but comfortable. Before you relax by the pool or on the patio with a cold beer, take a moment to match Mark's service with a small sacrifice of your own. You won't be sorry.

The second Marine is Corporal Todd Nicely. This week Todd returned home to his family and friends:

Todd's story is an inspiring one:

After regaining consciousness at Maryland's Bethesda Naval Medical Center, one of the first things Todd requested was a beer. The doctors allowed him a few sips.

Todd's swift progress is an amazing testimony to his strength, determination, and courage. He began using arm prosthetics mere weeks after the explosion that nearly took his life and just last week stood up on his "stubbies", the first step to full-length leg prosthetics. Most of Todd's time is spent as an outpatient. Recently, he flew to North Carolina to welcome the Marines from his unit back home.

Todd and his family are still at the very beginning of a long journey that will involve a year or more at Walter Reed Army Medical Center as he heals and learns to use his prosthetics. During this time he will draw on the strength of his loved ones. His wife, parents and siblings are committed to being there for him. His brother Ricky, who had planned to enlist in the Army, now plans to remain with Todd as long as needed.

Many young men, having lost so much, would give in to bitterness and despair. Instead, Todd has chosen to view the glass as half full - he has been given another chance at life and love. His young bride is a fitting match for his courage and resolve:

I know it's a lot to take in... at first your mind takes you to the worst place... but I can say that when I saw him for the first time all I saw was the man whom I fell in love with, my best friend, and the man I'm going to grow old with.

The Nicely's have the love of family and friends but Todd and his wife are facing a lengthy recovery period in which they will have face many challenges, not the least of which are ongoing medical and travel expenses. I can't think of any more fitting way to celebrate the 4th of July than by giving a little back to these fine young men who have given us so very much. Donation info at MaryAnn's, and many thanks to MaryAnn and Greta for all they do.

They won't thank me for saying so, but to me they are heroes too.

P.S. Please consider passing this information on. We often hear about the need to celebrate the true meaning of various holidays. Well, this is the true meaning of Independence Day - freedom entails continual sacrifice by men and women we will never know.

I hope it also earns our gratitude.

Posted by Cassandra at July 3, 2010 11:33 AM

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Forgive me for being first.

While I wish that war wasn't necessary; when I read their stories, it inspires me.

Our military will always have my gratitude.

Thanks...for protecting me and providing a gentle prod or a firmer push.

Posted by: Cricket at July 4, 2010 11:01 AM

"'He either fears his fate too much,
Or his desert is small,
Who fears to put it to the touch,
And win or lose it all.' - Montrose's Toast

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.- Confucius

Posted by: Ymarsakar at July 4, 2010 08:38 PM