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11.11.2009

A Less Self-Absorbed Day

To all my military friends, thank you. I take so much for granted, and I live my busy life so easily and carelessly. You guys don't. Or didn't. And you won't. So thank you.

Really.

Know that today, at least, I'm aware of your sacrifice for country and from family, and on one of the few days I remember it, I hope you can get away from it. At least for a day. But that's not how it works, I realize.

Your steadfastness enables me to live selfishly, forgetting the dangers you don't--you can't. I shouldn't be thankful for that, for being able to block out the sacrifices you make, but there's a part of me that thinks you want it that way. Or at least you understand it comes with the territory.

I should pray for your safety more; I actually know you. You aren't nameless statistics. You aren't simply round numbers thrown around by politicians and news-types. You're my friends. Or your parents are. Or your spouse or your siblings. You're connected to someone who cares about this country and my freedoms enough that you or they would put all on the line to protect them. To protect me.

I should relish my freedom more. At all, really. I take my freedom for granted; this freedom from tyranny, sure, but also to live recklessly and selfishly and as unproductively as I want. Instead of living more responsibly, instead of earning your sacrifice, I expect it. That's certainly unfair, but again, it doesn't surprise you. And it certainly doesn't deter you.

I should try to be like you more. You're selfless. You're loyal. You're determined. Through the challenges of the job, you can't quit. You don't have that option. So instead of wilting under pressure, you have no choice but to come out stronger. Better. I have opportunities to quit, to hit delete and start over. I can run from one career to the next, from one relationship to the next, from one trivial channel to the next. My life can be a merry-go-round of poor choices and poorer consequences, but you. You only get the option of going where you're told, when you're told, regardless of why or for what. You might agree, or you might not, but either way your life's most likely on the line. So what do you do? You don't run away. You persevere. Yes, you're selfless. You knew what you signed up for, sure. But that doesn't make it easier now.

While you're celebrated, no doubt genuinely by most or as political spectacle by a few, please know that today, for at least the rest of it, your fight's not in vain. Indeed your life is not. And whether you embrace or disdain the visions of our leaders both past and present, your service has put my personal challenges in perspective.

And after today--your day--when you go back to complaining about 120 degree heat or frigid winters away from home, about car bombs and snipers and brothers killed in action, I'll probably go back to complaining about my Greek test. Or my flat tire. Or the latest baseball score.

And it's not because I don't care, but because it's all I know. And I think, maybe, if I can dare, you'd probably have it no other way.

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