During 2004, I was sitting in church waiting for my niece's wedding to start when a Marine named Joey and his family were seated in the row in front of me.
I immediately smiled with pride at seeing him in his dress greens with corporal stripes, as it also reminded me of my son who still has at least two more months in his latest tour with the Marines.
And while they are tied to my niece as cousins from different sides of the family, I know that if my son had been there... each would have expressed feelings like they were brothers. I just cannot imagine any other greeting with them knowing that they served in Iraq at the same time.
Of course, just being Marines is enough in itself! I also know that my son would have given him a special Semper Fi upon learning that this younger Marine was returning to Iraq in August for a seven-month tour. (Hoping my son's unit will not receive similar orders.)
This unexpected and enjoyable conversation with Joey also triggered thoughts about where other American troops will be on the Fourth of July, especially those in Iraq and Afghanistan who will be protecting these countries new independence won from oppressive rule. They will not be able to enjoy the fireworks display at their hometowns in honor of America's birthday with some possibly undertaking very dangerous operations or worse.
Now, just imagine if you had a child, relative, and/or friend serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, or in harm's way elsewhere. Would they be on your mind when celebrating the Fourth of July? I think that is a big yes!
Well, then why don't all of us Americans start with this coming celebration of Independence Day . . . to honor again all those who are serving and have served in the United States of America's military?
Each one of them deserves to be included with the first great patriots who made the Fourth of July special . . . as they have been its safeguard stewards since 1776. They are truly national treasures who could never be honored enough!