All gave some, some gave all. Military-wife, Tiffany Smiley, shares her heartwarming & personal about honoring our defenders this Veterans Day.
“A nations that forgets it’s defenders will itself be forgotten.” -President Calvin Coolidge
From the moment we had our first child, Scotty and I decided we would be open and honest with our kids about why their dad was blind. At first we would say, a bad man hurt Daddy while he was fighting for America. As they got older they asked more questions, why would someone do this to you Dad? We would explain how we live in America and how we have more freedom here than most of the rest of the world. Scotty would explain about the military and how men, women and families sacrifice their lives and health so we can live in freedom and safety here in America.
We expected them to ask questions, what we didn’t expect was when our oldest Grady started asking very specific questions. Why would someone blow themselves up? Was anyone else killed? Has it happened again? We then had to explain that there is evil in this world and that the freedom we have in America has to be protected. A few weeks later Grady came home from school, sat down at the table and cried, hard.
Nothing prepared us for this. He was 5-years-old.
It never dawned on me that he would feel the grief and sadness that both Scotty and I went through years before. Something was taken from him too, someone tried to “blow up his dad” and in the process took his Dad’s eyesight. I watched as he sat there crying because he would never be able to play catch with his Dad, he wept because his Dad has never seen his face and never would, he cried for the fact that although his Dad will be at every sporting event, he will never actually see him play. My little boys lost something on that fateful day when a suicide bomber looked their Dad in the eyes and pulled the trigger. The last thing their Father ever saw was that man.
Grady went on to explain that his teacher was talking about senses in school; eyesight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. He said when they were talking about eyesight he raised his hand and said, “my dad can’t see but when he gets to heaven he will get to see me.”
Grady cried, I cried and I prayed for wisdom.
I’m so glad we have a day to honor Veterans, no one deserves it more. I also think we should take this time to honor veteran families who, just like ours, have sacrificed just as much for the freedom we Americans enjoy. The mother left to handle the craziness of a newborn baby alone while her husband is deployed, the son whose mom will miss his first day of kindergarten or the father who gets the dreaded knock on the door informing him his daughter won’t be coming home. We all have people in our immediate community who have been touched by this sacrifice.
Instead of letting Veteran’s Day come and go this year, why not take a practical step to make a difference in the lives of the military families that you know. Go rake their leaves, send them a gift card to a restaurant, volunteer at a Veteran’s Home in your city or write them a letter telling them how thankful you are for the sacrifices they make. Maybe you think that this sacrifice is far removed from your day-to-day life, but I’ll bet if you took 5 minutes to go through your Facebook friends or contacts you’d see just how many military families you know.
Recently my 6-year-old, Graham, sat down at the table and cried for his Dad, just the way that Grady had a couple years earlier. He said he was so sad that someone tried to kill his dad and took his eyes. He was crushed. But Grady was right there, he sat down by his brother, put his arm around him and genuinely consoled him. Our boys, though born after that horrific day, have sacrificed greatly too, their sweet innocent hearts and spirits are coming to terms with the fact that freedom isn’t free, and that many are out there working hard to keep us safe, just like their Dad did. The amazing thing is that even though they’ve seen firsthand the cost of freedom, they also see the hope. They understand that the loss of their father’s eyesight was not in vain; they know that his sacrifice, and the sacrifice of so many others, is the reason we get the honor of living in the freest country in the world.
To learn more about the author, please visit TiffanySmiley.com
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