|The door swings open and sunlight pours in. My silhouette outlines my feature, a 13 year old girl wearing blue jeans, her favorite red shirt and clutching a bag of homemade cards. My dad helps me navigate my way up to the volunteer office where I am introduced to a smiling elderly woman who will assist me hand out cards. My heart is racing as a race horse does on a track, heavy, hard and quick.|
My father leaves and the volunteer escort me down a white hospital hallway. With each footstep I am getting closer, closer to meeting them. My palms begin to get damp with my nervous sweat. My knees get weak. I feel like those girls who meet their favorite rock star- giddy and faint. The volunteer looks concerned as she takes notice of my anxiety. I explain that these men and women are people that I look up to with the greatest respect and admire to no end. The end of the hall way was near. It was time.
I enter a small room with a pajama clad old man sitting on the bed. His face is vacant with a frown and boredom clouds his eyes. I stand next to him and wipe my hand on my jeans before saying clearly as I can, “Hello sir, my name is Morgan. I just wanted to say Happy Veteran’s day and thank you for serving our country.”
He turns his head to me and holds out his hand with a new light shining on his face. I shake his hand and hand him a card. A thump on my back and a smile is all I need. I say goodbye and continue, my knees weak and my heart slowing down. I have just met my first hero. That man was a veteran.
Two years have passed since that November day. The sweet memory of meeting my heroes still and always will bring a smile to my face. My country is my pride. I feel like the very colors of red, white and blue run through my veins. My heart swells with gratitude to those who have died and served in the past and present. When I meet a veteran I still get a little nervous and they chuckle.
They all tell me the same thing, “Glad to have served and I’m just another person.” They may seem like another average citizen passing you in the grocery store but their stories and service always make me stick out my hand and say thanks. I was in Wal-Mart a few months ago with my mom. I passed an old man sitting on a blue bench with a cap that read “WW2 Vet” in gold. When I came back I saw him talking with a woman and her teenage son. I was excited when I asked him if he was a vet and he smiled and proudly said yes. I thanked him for his service and he quickly motioned to the woman he was talking too. She had just got back from being stationed overseas. I thanked her.
Then, with a huge smile on his face the veteran told me that the teenager was planning on serving. I turned my attention to the fellow teen and asked him what branch. It was Navy. I stated I wanted to serve Air Force. The veteran by now was all excited. All four of us were brimming with patriotism. I really wanted to stay and chat, but I had to go back and find my mom. Moments like these are the very reasons why veterans are important. They keep the American spirit alive and patriot dream’s vivid. They are the ones who tell stories of courage and value of country that encourage others to go on and flourish in their day to day lives.
I am constantly running into unpatriotic Americans. They all seem to have the mentality that their freedom is just there with no cost. There is no monetary cost. But, from the very first shot of the Revolutionary War and the very first life lost in battle for America to be free, the cost has been adding up. Freedom had never been and never will be free. Veteran’s have laid down their lives and sacrificed the comfort of leaving their home to protect and defend the sweet freedom of America.
The red of our flag “symbolize the blood spilled in defense of this glorious nation”. The “White Stripes… signify the burning tears shed by Americans who lost their sons,” and the blue, “is indicative of God’s heave under which I (the flag) fly.” These words spoken by Thomas E. Wicks, Sr. are the very essence of our nation. The red, white and blue are the colors that many people have died for.
The words from Toby Keith’s song “American Soldier” states what many military personal believe; “I don’t wanna die for you but if dying is asking me, I’ll bear that cross with honor ‘cause freedom don’t come free.” I too believe in this simple statement. My dreams include the military. Which branch is still unclear and I still have time to decide. Every night I pray for all servicemen and women to return home safe and for all veterans to go to bed knowing that their country is still the glorious one that they fought for. Their service may be completed but their job is not done.
They continue to be soldiers, Marines, sailors, Airmen and every other servicemen and women that they were when they were currently serving. Those names on that great black wall in Washington DC and the many rows of white headstones in Arlington are more than mere words or stones, more than just a pretty reflection or vast cemetery. They are the very truest American’s. Those American’s are the reason I stand erect every time I say the Pledge of Allegiance, smile when I see a veteran hat and want to serve our great country.
A young teenage girl handed out many cards that day, all 47 that she had handmade and made her hands cramp and markers go dry. Those smiles and stories coming from her heroes, the veteran’s at her local VA, made it all worth it and more. Her heart beats the national colors. Memories of talking with veterans remind her constantly why veterans are important. When she looks at that flag, her eyes mist over with grateful tears that never fall and her heart swells with pride. That girl is me. Veterans are our country’s essence and core. Without them America wouldn’t be America. It would no longer be that country that people dream about living in.