From This Civilian to the Soldiers of America:
Happy New Year! And a Heartfelt Thank You for All that You Do
Relationships matter, and this is the season when they may matter most. I typically write and blog about marital relationships. However, given the state of relational discord we've been seeing in our nation's capital lately, I want to raise up an often undervalued yet vital relationship in our society -- the relationship between soldiers and civilians.
As I watched the recent ridiculous stand-off over the national budget result in a 60-day extension, I couldn't help but think that the mature men and women who represent us at the highest levels of government are in desperate need of a relationship make-over. They need role models now more than ever, and I can't think of a better place for them to turn than our military, because it's these brave men and women who know what it means to sacrifice. They are the ones whose very survival depends on their ability to set aside their differences with one another and work as a team towards a common goal. They are the ones who truly know how to lead.
This is something we can all agree on as we think about the events of 2011, and consider our priorities and hopes for the year to come. Let us begin by finding a common ground and truly thank those who choose to protect our ability to form relationships with whomever we wish. Whether it be with folks who believe we should continue to occupy Wall Street, or individuals who demand that there should be more tea served at political parties, we each have the freedom to choose. And the people who deserve our abundant public and private thanks for that freedom are the dignified men and women who serve in America's military.
I was visiting with friends at an annual Christmas Eve gathering and met an interesting guy. His name is David Nour. He is an author, accomplished speaker and relationship expert. David made a point during one of his speeches that I think is valuable regarding relationships, basically stating that people deal with and connect with folks they know, like and trust. It makes sense, but why is this connection so elusive, especially in our body politic? I don't know many soldiers, but the few I have met I like a lot and I feel that connection that David talks about. And even those soldiers I don't know, I trust that most are committed to doing their best to serve. If only we could be more like our military brothers and sisters, we'd be doing a much better job of connecting with our fellow citizens.
We civilians get the privilege to advance our most treasured relationships because of the largely unspoken and under-recognized relationship that we have with our soldiers. So for the reasons listed below, and many more, I'd like to express my heartfelt wishes and gratitude to all those who serve.
- for choosing to spend time away from your family this holiday season so that I could spend time with mine,
- for honoring your missions even when you may not always agree with the policies of those in charge,
- for your humility in playing a small role during a sporting event, when there would perhaps be no sporting event without you,
- for coming home and doing your best to share what you've learned from active duty in the context of work...even when the number jobs available for your remarkable skill set are dwindling,
- for making it possible for me to do the work I love, with the people I love and respect, for the people I love and respect,
- for making the ultimate sacrifice so that my family and I can live another day breathing, loving, and being.
Every time I see a soldier in uniform at the airport, duffel bag tossed over his or her shoulder, waving a tearful good-bye to a wife, husband, fiancé, mother or father, my heart overflows with gratitude. It makes me realize how much I have, and how petty all our differences have been over the issues of the day. And when I watch the local news stories of these same men and women come home to families after years of combat -- their ecstatic children leaping into their open arms -- I can feel the love. It's palpable. It's real. And it makes me realize that, as Americans, as human beings, we can do so much better.
In what ways are you thankful for what our soldiers past and present have done, and continue to do?
Your thoughts? Speak on it!
To all you soldiers and civilians at home and abroad, Happy New Year, and many, many more!