by Channing R.
We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.
If I hadn’t made that promise to loyally tape my brothers’ entire Boyscouts Ceremony on Veterans Day, then I wouldn’t have been awakened at 5 o’clock in the morning—not a favorite hour for one so fond of her pillow—by a persistent tapping on my arm. I wouldn’t have slowly opened my eyes to see Baron—my persistent, puppy eyed brother—urgently telling me “It’s Remembrance Day! We are going to be late!” and I wouldn’t have groaned out of bed to skip breakfast and shriek upon landing on the chilling leather seat of a car frozen in the middle of the garage, ready to greet its passengers with an icy thrill of air conditioning at the turn of a switch.
I didn’t get much sleep on the way to the ceremony, but upon arriving, the sun was finally beginning to peek out of its slumber. “Oh, up so soon?” I grumbled to it. Baron hopped out of the car and joined his troop of fellow boyscouts, preparing for the rehearsed ceremony honoring all American Veterans of all Wars.
Only a few Veterans showed up, but there were enough to fill the petite row of seats lined up facing an American flag and a stone with engraved words: “We will never forget.” The ceremony lasted for thirty minutes—Baron blew his bugle, a few other boys brought a violin and cello to play a hesitant but touching rendition of “Honoring the Fallen”, a few little boys in uniform marched in roll call to raise the flag and salute to the pledge of allegiance and the national anthem. All this was warming up to me, but the thought of my even warmer bed back home kept my lip stiff.
It was the last part of this humble ceremony that brought a tear to my eye and a pang to my chest.
Several boys lined up behind a microphone much too tall for any of them, and one by one, they marched up and gave their speech to an awaiting audience.
“Thank you for the right to bear arms.”
“Thank you for defending the bill of rights”
“Thank you for the freedom of speech”
“Thank you for the freedom to believe God in my own way”
“Thank you for the freedom of the press”
“Thank you for fighting so that we do not have to live in fear”
“Thank you for your sacrifice. We cannot call this nation the greatest on earth without the pains, the efforts, the time you have given to make it that way. The freedom of religion, the right to bear arms, the freedom of speech, the freedom of capitalism… none of this could exist without the sacrifices you soldiers and veterans of war have given. We know that freedom is not free.”
There was applaud, and then a silence—a silence that one could hear, feel, touch. It was a silence that turned the wind into a song and the beating of the flag into drums. One could hear tears fall. It was the unmistakable silence of pride, pain, and joy.
An elderly man with a cap that said “Pearl Harbor: WWII” came up to my brother as I was walking with him to the car, somber and quiet.
There were tears in his eyes, and he gripped Baron’s arm for support.
“Son, your words touched my heart and brought back many memories that were hard to remember. I haven’t heard the sound of a bugle in years, but when I heard that bugle playing, tears came to my eyes. Every memory came pouring back. It was painful, it was hard, it was heartbreaking… But if I had to, I would do it all over again. It is because of the young people in this nation that we risked our lives for. Thank you.”
What am I thankful for?
I am thankful for the men and women who served in this nation in order for we the people to pursue life, maintain liberty, and obtain happiness.
I am thankful that I am a part of this next generation, for I will do the best of my ability to voice the cries of too many lost souls, and strengthen the determination of tomorrow to never repeat what history warns us of today.
I am thankful to God for that moment in time, which will never be forgotten, when the soldier, streaked in tears by the memories of suffering, heartbreak, and pain, said: