"Celebrating our Veterans Service"

The world depends on them and they are willing to serve at any cost. They are the men and women of the Armed Forces. From the Battle of New York during the Revolution, where we won our freedom, to the world today, they have been working to keep us safe. Those men and women are not just ordinary people, they are heroes. Whether they have ever been on active duty, or just go to drill, they are heroes. Whether they are old or young, black or white, whether they are lonely with no family left, or blessed with the love of children, they are heroes. Many people see these soldiers and think of the yelling, mean people they see on T.V., but they are loving and caring. They are husbands, wives, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters. They are courageous and brave, they are our American Soldiers.

I wrote those words the day after I found out there was a possibility my father would be deployed to Iraq. While writing this paper I thought of a picture, where a small blonde-headed girl, about the age of seven, was standing next to her kneeling father before his departure to Bosnia. I couldn't tell whether the girl had been crying, but the sadness and uncertainty showed through.

One event remembered clearly by this young girl was the Christmas her father couldn't make it home. There were many presents from him under the tree, but a different person had to take the pictures.

Her father did receive a visit to his family in October. The visit was short, but the annual trip to the apple orchard was fit into the schedule. The little girl would be lifted to the sky by her father to gather apples from the tree. The visit also allowed her to receive the hugs she had been waiting for. The homecoming was not something that could be dug from the depths of her memory, but the fact that her father was home was all that mattered.

Writing about that experience brought tears to my eyes while I remembered the day that departure became reality for me yet again. My father was deployed again in March of 2003, this time to Iraq. During this deployment I knew the situation and risks involved, something I did not know when I was seven. There would be many nights that I would fall asleep crying or staying up with my mom watching the news and hoping my dad was not in the area of violence. Communication options were more open than they were when my father was in Bosnia, so we received emails almost daily, if conditions were good.

This time my father was gone for about a year and a half. Things he missed included: my first day of high school, a birthday, Thanksgiving, and another Christmas. There were also some other minor things missed such as track meets and band competitions. These events were all made up for when he visited home and through phone calls and emails while he was away. My father is home now and he makes a point to go to all the events he can.

The day my father left for Iraq he took the words I opened with and tried to read them to his unit. He didn't get very far. From what I heard, he only managed to get out the title and the fact that his daughter wrote it. After that someone else took over. Tough guys don't cry, especially in the Army.

I believe the experiences I have gone through have made me the person I am today. I believe they have made me stronger and more independent. I have become more appreciative of the freedoms we have in this country and how we came to gain those freedoms. I can now fully understand how much these men and women sacrifice for their country. They sacrifice time with family, time with friends, and some even sacrifice their lives, to keep this country safe. I truly believe every person who has ever fought for our country, including my grandfather in Vietnam, my father in Iraq, and my uncle in Afghanistan, is a hero. I support the selfless heroes of our country. I support our veterans.