Friday, February 26, 2010

Taken for Granted: Service, Sacrifice...Ballots and the American Spirit

I spend a lot of posts honoring Damn Good Dawgs for their bravery on the gridiron. After all it's part of our responsibility as Dawg fans to give respect to those who entertain us, win or lose. But there are those who stand heads and shoulders above even Herschel Walker. There are many whose glory is elevated higher than Hines Ward's career numbers. And there are some whose legacy is as voluminous as Frank Sinkwich's.

The men and women who serve or served in our military.

I never served. Quite frankly, I'm in awe of those who put aside their lives and their own safety just to allow me the freedom to type these words...and to take for granted their very actions at the drop of a hat. Maybe you're like me and have relatives who have served and/or are serving. Chances are, if you have loved ones in the military right now you have a better understanding of this sacrifice than I do. Yet I hope you continue reading.

If you come here often, you understand that I don't post under the tag neither red nor black very often. But there are times that my fingertips lead me down a different path than the one towards Sanford's bridge or Foley Field. Like when Corporal John Tolan returned home to Lawrenceville from Afghanistan, it started out as a bad day for me, but ended as a great day for America.  I started today's post over a week ago after reading this piece by Rex and following the click to the video interview of his father. The Battle of Iwo Jima was 65 years ago, yet it's importance is just as remarkable today as it was to my grandparents who actually lived during the time.

At least it's that important to me. This week did a feature on 1st Lieutenant Howard W. "Smiley" Johnson, the Georgia football player who died in combat on Sulphur Island from injuries sustained after a Japanese shell exploded close to him and other marines. According to accounts, Lt. Johnson refused medical attention until the enlisted Marines were treated first. To be perfectly honest, I can almost imagine the pride family members must feel for a young man who plays football 'tween the hedges. Hell, I'm proud of those guys each and every play.

But to have a loved one give their blood for this country, to lose their life protecting the freedoms that every human has the right to own...well, that dear Reader is an act that ultimately exceeds any worth that some word can give or any points a winning touchdown can score. Honorable...sure. But so much more than that. 

My grandparents served in and survived WWII and years later were able to relate its effects on their lives to me as I sat in a chair beside them. Smiley's family wasn't afforded the same luxury. But together with Clarence Robinson and thousands of others...they truly were the Greatest Generation.

Lastly, I wanted to point out a tremendously inspirational read shared with me by a reader this week. I don't know what your political persuasions are, nor do I pretend to know what your feelings are towards our military presence in the Middle East. Again, to be quite really shouldn't matter. These men and women are there protecting our rights to vote, eat at McDonald's whenever we need a trans fat fix, sleep in our own beds, go to church on Sunday, go to work on Monday, have children that play in our yards and generally pursue happiness at every turn of life. Political issues can easily blur into gray areas as they do gray matter. But military service is always...(I'm sorry, let me re-emphasize)...A L W A Y S simply three distinct colors: RED  WHITE  and  BLUE.

In one beautifully written post (h/t Ally), David Bellavia fills me to the rim with pride in my well as makes me feel terrifically ashamed at my habit for taking my freedoms for granted. I'll warn you that it's a long read. But it's a treasure to behold if you are currently serving our dear USA. It's inspirational even if you've retired your uniform from active duty. And it's an absolute must read if you have a need to reconnect with what makes America so pure, honest and wonderful.  

I helped make this day happen. This ballot represents the reason why we're here, why my friends had to die. Carefully, I fold the ballot up and put it in my pocket. Even thought I was 29 at the time, I'd only voted once. I had taken something so precious for granted for far too long.

Please bookmark that link....come back to this post later and follow it...or simply set aside whatever you are doing now for a few moments and give it a read. No matter your feelings about this war and the way it gets tossed back and forth across the aisle in Congress, we all must take each and every available moment to honor our military. Because it is due to their actions, that we have been afforded the right to take them for granted.

Enjoy your weekend Reader. And if I've been honored to have a click from a man or woman in uniform...

Thank you.


MikeInValdosta said...

Great post, Bernie!

Banard Black said...

CB Chapman lost both of his legs in result of his bomber crashing on an ice cap during WWII. both legs had frost bite and later were amputated at the knee. This man was my hero and grandfather. So many times we take so much for granted and reminders like this Bernie say a lot about you. thank you for the reminder sir.

Ally said...

Excellent post Chris. Glad you like the Bellavia article. His site is amazing. Bookmark it if you want and check back occasionally.

Really wish every American who dares to espouse a negative opinion about Iraq or Afghanistan WITHOUT serving, would take the time to read his article. As Bellavia explains, there's no such thing as being anti-war AND pro-troops. There just isn't.

So glad you took the time to post this. God bless our troops!

Bernie said...

I appreciate your comments nearly as much as I appreciate CB Chapman's service. What an inspiration. Thanks for sharing that sc-hell.

jewelry making said...

This is a legendary service that one citizen could ever offer for his country.