For all our fathers, our mothers, our sisters, and our brothers...we honor you.
For all our wives, our husbands, our sons, and our daughters...we love you.
For all our families, our friends, and our beloved others...we cherish you.
To all our allies, our forces, and heroic defenders...we remember you.
Your bravery, your courage, and your sacrifices have made us the fortunate ones.
To all our veterans, we thank you.
For as long I can remember, the military has always played a significant role in my life. Growing up, I remember listening to stories of my grandparents during the first world war and the second world war. My uncles and aunts and parents would capture our attention for hours when they spoke of their time during the Korean and Vietnam Wars--it was suppose to be an adult conversation, but as kids, my siblings, and cousins, and I learned to tuned out the t.v. and pay close attention whenever the relatives started reminiscing about their wartime experiences.
I used to be fascinated with my father's old military fotos and medals tucked deep in his footlocker; I was awed by the bright colors of those small pieces of ribbons and the shine of those little bits metals. I was mesmerized by the crispness of the old uniforms next to the shined boots. It seemed so unreal to see pictures of my dad in uniform, next to his buddies, taking a cigarette break, weapon still in hand--so young, so carefree yet on alert. I used to wonder what he was thinking about at the time, and I wonder if he ever hoped or dared to dream of where life would take him, if he would even survive those terrible times.
Some of my relatives were not quite the same after their wartime experiences. One of my uncles spent his days living with us one day, then going over to his other siblings homes...never quite settling down for too long. There were nights when he would just sit on the porch, mumbling things I could not understand, my mother sitting silently next to him, sad but supportive. Other times, my dad and my uncle would drink by themselves, having soft but very few conversations, somehow able to communicate so much with so little spoken. I had an aunt who drank everyday, a nurse during the Vietnam War, she often went into periods where she would not say anything to anyone for days, a despondent look upon her face, her eyes far off as if in search for something or someone. It was quite unnerving to see my usually happy, funny aunt stay silent and distant and so far removed from us. She died from cirrhosis.
Some of my siblings lived through the first Gulf War, and some returned for the latest Gulf incursion. I've family and friends who've all ready lost blood, limbs, and lives to the current war. These ones I miss and feel for the most. The ones who come back alive, don't come back the same; some thing has changed in them, and I'm not sure if I can ever reach them again, though I love them very much. The ones who never came back, I am not going to forget, and I miss them and mourn them every day.