July 4th: A day of thanks, remembrance and paying it forward

July 4th: A time for celebration, reflection, gratitude, and remembrance. And while we fire up our grills, and make those preparations for our barbeques and parties by getting our invitations and supplies in order, it is often easy to overlook our country’s journey to this point in our history. Too often we forget the men and women of our military who have and continue to put their lives on the line in the past and in the present to defend us and our way of life. In school we study all the wars and military actions of the past, while many of us forget that we are presently in a war to preserve our future. This is the perfect time to reflect on the men & women of the military, and the sacrifices they make every day. Also, the many families who have sent their sons and daughters to war for our nation so many others would not have to go. A wise man said one “Freedom is not free”. This has been never more evident in our history as it is in our war against terror and in the front lines are our service men and women fighting every day so that “This great nation will not perish from the earth”.

While we barbeque with our family and friends this July 4th, I can’t help but think about our service men and women stuck in some of the worst places on earth under constant threat. There is no holiday for them – no burnt hotdogs, no baked beans or apple pie; only their acceptance of duty and willingness to survive to return home. The reality is some will not come home and others will not come home whole. When they do return will we remember them? Will we take for granted our lifestyle that is only made possible by our constant struggle for freedom through our military personnel? Or can we reach out to them; make their lives just a little bit better. Can we let them know that they are appreciated, loved and welcome when they come back home? Better yet, can we send them a little comfort and touches of home while they are still there? Yes we can and it is OUR duty as Americans to do just that.   I was thinking about how I can do my part. Since I’ve never been in the military I really didn’t know how to reach out if for nothing more than to say, “thank you for your service. We are proud of you. We love you. We need you”. Fortunately there are so many things that we can do! Here’s a few ways you can pay it forward, and reach out to those who serve (or have served) our country.

You can visit with veterans at one of the many veterans’ hospitals.

You can send cards and letters to the residents at these hospitals to brighten their day.

You can organize drives for food and clothing.

You can even do something as easy as send a card to just remind them that their sacrifice was not in vain, that someone remembers them. Here are a few great resources: http://amillionthanks.org/send_a_letter.php, http://soldiersangels.org/letter-writing-team.html, I read this on Soldier Angels website, and got a little teared up: “I want to start out by telling you what a great feeling it is to open a letter from someone you have never met before and feel so loved by a complete stranger…Thank you for all that you do. Alpha troop 6/17 CAV sends their most heartfelt appreciation to all”.

There are many Veterans’ organizations that would welcome any help you could extend from monetary donations to volunteering your time.

You can send card packages to the soldiers – sometimes things simple things like toothpaste, candy, snacks, comic books, playing cards can help them feel a little bit of “home”. I’ve also read that simple things like hot sauce, lip balm, snack packs, and sunscreen are pretty much considered a luxury. Here are some good resources to help: https://www.operationgratitude.com, http://www.veteransunited.com/life/what-deployed-troops-really-want-in-their-care-packages/

These men and women have given so much to us. What can we give in return? If you’d like to send a card you see on Sent-Well to a member of the military, we will offer you a 25% discount now thru December 31st. Just enter code SOLDIER25 at checkout.