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May is Military Appreciation Month

I didn’t notice him at first. He was just one in a sea of faces I glanced through as I hurried to take a spot in line to board the plane. I wasn’t even aware he had taken a seat in front of me as the passengers were settling in to prepare for a 5 hour non-stop flight. It’s one of those times that you claim your space quickly and deploy carefully, as the choices you make may not be the most comfortable to bear in a small square of space on a coast to coast plane ride. In my case it was a computer error with my seat selection that decided my fate and relegated me to the confinement of a middle seat directly behind him.

As the flight attendant was going over the menu options for meal purchases on the loudspeaker it was then that I caught a glimpse of an Army digital green pattern sleeve.  As I leaned closer, I saw the outline of his Ranger shoulder patch: the Screaming Eagle of the 101st Airborne.  My mind immediately stood at attention! We have a hero on board, a mighty son of the USA wearing the uniform of this great nation, and sworn to protect the Republic for which it stands. I glanced at the blue star pin I happened to be wearing on my shirt as a proud parent of my own two soldiers, and who had safely returned from service in Iraq. It also served to remind me that that May is National Military Appreciation month and opportunities certainly abound to show our gratefulness for these courageous young men and women.

As I purchased my meal selection I purchased one more, along with an extra snack box filled with sweets. I asked the flight attendant to set them on the soldier’s tray and not reveal its source, but simply to extend thanks to him for his service. As I watched the scene unfold out of the corner of my eye I noticed his restraint. He held a firm reluctance to accept the gift, but I was grateful that she simply asserted the gesture of gratitude extended to him by setting it on his tray anyway. It is a typical reaction of these quiet professionals not to draw any attention to themselves or accept any extra attention.  But on this day, and every day, he deserves our thankfulness, praise, and respect for bearing the cause of freedom.

Buying someone a meal is not an extraordinary feat. This is an insignificant act compared to the priceless sacrifice he makes daily to serve and defend our country. I often wonder where we get such extraordinary people? These are patriot men and women, who willingly stand in harm’s way for the protection and security of the citizens of the United States of America.  It saddens me for a moment to think that his daily call to faithfully serve and protect our nation will go unnoticed by the majority of Americans.  We tend to take for granted that his duty is the vanguard in preserving liberty and the rights we hold dear to daily engage in a free society.

This month take time to be more aware of these brave warriors, and boldly step forward when you see one to thank him or her for their service. Patriotic acts of respect and gratefulness will never go out of style. There are many ways you can show your thanks and appreciation in small gestures that speak volumes. Check out the Military Appreciation Month site, for more information, ideas, and suggestions. On Memorial Day May 29th, take a moment to pause and reflect on those who bore the cost of freedom and laid down their lives throughout our country’s history. These military heroes gave up all their tomorrows so that you can have your todays.


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