I'm going to venture a "little" off subject here as I write today's post. Veteran's Day has always been a day that has meant a lot to me. Being raised in a military family, and living around the world growing up during peace time and war time, I got to see first hand the willing sacrifice the men and women of our armed services put forth daily in their military service. I was raised to always respect men and women in uniform, recognize their selflessness, thank them for their service, and do what I could to support them no matter how small it seemed.
Our family has a long history with those serving our country. From my grandfather, to my father, to my father in law, to my brother, to Brian's brother in law, and many cousins, uncles and close friends along the way. Of our veterans, besides my father of course, my closest relationship is with my brother, Nick. I will never forget when I took him out for his 21st birthday weeks before my wedding and he told me he had enlisted. I was not surprised - growing up he had always talked about joining the Marines.... I knew it was just a matter of "when," not "if." Nick served 4 years active duty in the Marine Corps - 2nd Recon Bn - Bravo 1. He sacrificed a lot to fight in Iraq and other areas for us all to be safer earning many recognitions including a Purple Heart. (He would never tell you though because that's just him - and any Marine - honor and humility.....) Thankfully, he came home, but many of his brothers did not. Because of my close relationship with him, I will always remember everything they went through and make sure my children grown up knowing as well.
Fast forward to Meagan's birth. We of course had a c-section planned and were given the date of September 22nd. As the date neared, we heard that there were a few emergencies that were going to actually bump us to September 23rd. While I wasn't happy about waiting another day to meet Meagan, I was happy that her new birthday was going to be on Nick's birthday. Although Nick was my "little" brother, I looked up to him tremendously. I watched him honorably serve two intense tours in Iraq, work through loss and TBI to power through college on his own, finish his degree, get a great job, care for his son, and even find time for bringing awareness to post-war Marine injuries by taking part in things like the George Bush Wounded Warrior Ride and other events. Knowing all Meagan would have to face, I was honored to know our special little girl would be born on such a great day.
Once Meagan was born, there were a lot of adjustments in our lives as you know. Even though Nick was far away, his concern and questions were never far. He would often text or call asking how she was doing.... or in true "Nick" fashion, send me something so funny I would be "that" parent laughing out loud in the middle of the NICU. I remember all the visits we have had since then when he has held her, played with her, and praised all her accomplishments. He calls her his "brain buddy" because he knows she "gets him" on those off days. Sharing a birthday isn't their only commonality - they both have an infectious sense of humor, and are the kindest people you would ever meet. Nick is an incredible father to his son, the best little "big" brother I could have asked for, and is a loving and supportive uncle.
Now why all this attention on my brother and his fellow Marines today? As you know it is Veteran's Day today. We see all the Facebook posts and pictures honoring those we love who have served - but what are we actually doing about it? What can we do since we are not the ones voluntarily putting our lives on the line for freedom? What else can we do besides passing along oh so important stories of brave men and women on to our children? How can we show them true action on our part to say thank you?
For me, personally, it is my brother and his fellow brothers, both fallen and still here, who I would like to support. Nick recently made a webpage asking for support for his fellow Recon brothers and their families. As he states on his page:
..." [Your Marine Reconnaissance Foundation]... donation goes directly to helping Marines and their loved ones battle through tough timees and austere conditions. Additionally, take pride in the fact that you are supporting the tip of the spear in the Marine Corps - the dirty, hardened, cammie-painted men of the Reconnaissance Community...."
He goes on to say:
"To show my committment to this cause I will be competing in several Triathlons throughout the 2015 season - 3 of which are Half-Ironman events! Through training and competition, I am in store for pain and misery - However, it is nothing compared to what some of my Recon-brothers and their families have to endure due to wounds, injuries, or financial distress. I've been there, I received help myself, and now it is time to give back."
So I say to you - it's your turn. These men and women have sacrificed not once, not twice, but time and time again. Even after their active duty ends, their duty to us and their self sacrifice never ends. Because that's just how they are made. Next time you just want that $5 pack of gum at the checkout, or the $6 Starbucks coffee, or maybe instead of that cute new top you have been eyeing at the store, or the new electronic game you have been waiting for..... take that money, and sacrifice a little of your luxury to donate to the MRF. There is no amount too small and even better, your donation goes directly to help these Marines and their families. You can visit my brother's webpage HERE to make the donation - and I encourage you to please pass the link on to others.
Afterall, these are the ones we rely on to keep those luxuries we enjoy everyday. These are the ones we rely on to sit in dirt, or fields, or sand while we snuggle in our comfortable beds. These are the ones we rely on to walk towards bullets or bombs while we safely sit in our homes. These are the ones we rely on to give their lives - so that we may have one more day to wake up in a free land.
One proud Marine sister and one grateful American