Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Letter to My Father on Veterans Day

Dad,

I realized this week that for all my eloquent words about our military, for all my noble thoughts about how great and heroic those men and women are, for all that I respect them and honor them for what they have done and are doing for our country, for all the times that I have thanked a veteran, there is one veteran that I have never thanked. I have never told you, Dad. I am here today to change that.

Dad, thank you.

Thank you for teaching me to love our country. Thank you for instilling the knowledge in me that our country, sometimes in spite of its flaws and sometimes because of them, deserves my respect and my gratitude.

Thank you, Dad, for teaching me that freedom is worth the price that people are willing to pay. Thank you for teaching me to respect our military, to salute our flag, to place my hand over my heart during the anthem.

Thank you for living out an example of a man dedicated to the protection of his country, and all its citizens. Thank you for taking our family with you as you traveled around the globe. Thank you for allowing me the chance to live other cultures, and to arrive at the conclusion that America is this great nation.

Dad, thank you for your example of service. For getting up each morning, putting on your uniform, and heading out our doors to protect our country, to protect our family, to protect me.

I thank you for the fact that I get choked up every time I hear Taps being played. I thank you for the fact that I outright cry when I see the missing man formation being flown overhead. I thank you for every moment that I realized how incredibly blessed we are to live in this wonderful land.

I thank you for me knowing all the words to the patriotic songs. I thank you for making the 4th of July so much more to me than a day for fireworks. I thank you for teaching me the history of our country, for pointing out our strengths and our weaknesses.

There is so much you have taught me in life, Dad, but on this Veterans Day, I want to thank you for all you have done for me, for our family, and for our country.

I remember watching the movie "Man Without a Country" with you when I was young. The story was about a man who, during a court marshall in the Civil War years, wished that he had "never heard of America". The judge granted his wish, and placed him on a boat that was never allowed to land, and the people on board were never allowed to speak of America to him. At the end of the movie, he meets a young man who is disillusioned with America, and he speaks these words to him

..."For your country, boy," and the words rattled in his throat, "and for that flag," and he pointed to the ship, "never dream a dream but of serving her as she bids you, though the service carry you through a thousand hells. No matter what happens to you, no matter who flatters you or abuses you, never look at another flag, never let a night pass but you pray God to bless that flag. Remember, boy, that behind all these men..., behind officers and government, and people even, there is the Country Herself, your Country, and that you belong to her as you belong to your own mother. Stand by her, boy, as you would stand by your mother...! Oh, if anybody had said so to me when I was your age!"

After the movie was over you turned to me and told me not to forget those words. To remember that our country is worth everything in life. It is worth living for, fighting for, even dying for.

Dad, don't worry. I won't forget those words. I won't forget them, because I saw them lived out every day of our lives. I saw them in the flesh, in the most important veteran in my life...

My father.

Happy Veterans Day, Daddy

~Jennifer

6 comments:

  1. And I'd like to add:

    Thank you for raising such an amazing daughter.

    My heartfelt thanks to your Dad, and to all of our vetrans.

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  2. This is such a beautiful post ~Ifer! Thank you to your dad from me too.

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  3. Wow!

    I have no words. Everything I want to say seems less than what this deserves.

    Thank you.

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  4. That was very beautiful and very heartfelt. Thank you for sharing it.

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  5. What a beautiful heartfelt letter. Thank you for sharing it. And thank you to your dad.

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