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A friend sent me this and I thought it was a fitting reminder for Memorial Day. I'd just gotten back from placing flowers on my Dad, nephew and grandparents graves when it arrived so it brought me to tears. Grab a tissue and I hope you're as touched by it as I was.

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I was sitting alone in one of those loud, casual steak houses that you find all over the country. You know the type--a bucket of peanuts on every table, shells littering the floor, and a bunch of perky college kids racing around with long neck beers and sizzling platters.

Taking a sip of my iced tea, I studied the crowd over the rim of my glass. My gaze lingered on a group enjoying their meal. They wore no uniform to identify their branch of service, but they were definitely 'military:' clean shaven, cropped haircut, and that 'squared away' look that comes with pride.

Smiling sadly, I glanced across my table to the empty seat where my husband usually sat. It had only been a few months since we sat in this very booth, talking about his upcoming deployment to the Middle East . That was when he made me promise to get a sitter for the kids, come back to this restaurant once a month and treat myself to a nice steak. In turn he would treasure the thought of me being here, thinking about him until he returned home.

I fingered the little flag pin I constantly wear and wondered where he was at this very moment . Was he safe and warm? Was his cold any better? Were my letters getting through to him?

As I pondered these thoughts, high pitched female voices from the next booth broke into my thoughts. 'I don't know what Bush is thinking about. Invading Iraq . You'd think that man would learn from his old man's mistakes. Good Lord. What an idiot! I can't believe he is even in office. You do know, he stole the election.'

I cut into my steak and tried to ignore them as they began an endless tirade running down our president.

I thought about the last night I spent with my husband, as he prepared to deploy. He had just returned from getting his smallpox and anthrax shots. The image of him standing in our kitchen packing his gas mask still gives me chills.

Once again the women's voices invaded my thoughts.

'It's all about oil, you know. Our soldiers will go in and rape and steal all the oil they can in the name of 'freedom'. Hmmm! I wonder how many innocent people they'll kill without giving it a thought. It's pure greed, you know.'

My chest tightened as I stared at my wedding ring. I could still see how handsome my husband looked in his 'mess dress' the day he slipped it on my finger I wondered what he was wearing now. Probably his desert uniform, affectionately dubbed 'coffee stains' with a heavy bulletproof vest over it.

'You know, we should just leave Iraq alone. I don't think they are hiding any weapons. In fact, I bet it's all a big act just to increase the president's popularity. That's all it is, padding the military budget at the expense of our social security and education. And, you know what else? We're just asking for another 9-11. I can't say when it happens again that we didn't deserve it.'

Their words brought to mind the war protesters I had watched gathering outside our base. Did no one even appreciate the sacrifice of brave men and women, who leave their homes and family to en sure our freedom? Do they even know what 'freedom' is?

I glanced at the table where the young men were sitting, and saw their courageous faces change. They had stopped eating and looked at each other dejectedly, listening to the women talking.

'Well, I, for one, think it's just deplorable to invade Iraq , and I am certainly sick of our tax dollars going to train professional baby-killers we call a military.'

Professional baby-killers. I thought about what a wonderful father my husband is, and of how long it would be before he would see our children again.

That's it! Indignation rose up inside me. Normally reserved, pride in my husband gave me a brassy boldness I never realized I had. Tonight one voice will answer on behalf of our military, and let her pride in our troops be known.

Sliding out of my booth, I walked around to the adjoining booth and placed my hands flat on their table. Lowering myself to eye level with them, smiling I said, 'I couldn't help overhearing your conversation. You see, I'm sitting here trying to enjoy my dinner alone. And, do you know why? Because my husband, whom I love with all my heart, is halfway around the world defending your right to say rotten things about him.'

'Yes, you have the right to your opinion, and what you think is none of my business. However, what you say in public is something else, and I will not sit by and listen to you ridicule MY country, MY president, MY husband, and all the other fine American men and women who put their lives on the line, just so you can have the 'freedom' to complain. Freedom is an expensive commodity, ladies. Don't let your actions cheapen it.'

I must have been louder than I meant to be, because the manager came over to inquire if everything was all right

'Yes, thank you,' I replied.

Then, turning back to the women, I said, 'Enjoy the rest of your meal.'

As I returned to my booth applause broke out. I was embarrassed for making a scene, and went back to my half eaten steak. The women picked up their check and scurried away.

After finishing my meal, and while waiting for my check, the manager returned with a huge apple cobbler ala mode. 'Compliments of those soldiers,' he said. He also smiled and said the ladies tried to pay for my dinner, but that another couple had beaten them to it.

When I asked who, the manager said they had already left, but that the gentleman was a veteran, and wanted to take care of the wife of 'one of our boys.'

With a lump in m y throat, I gratefully turned to the soldiers and thanked them for the cobbler. Grinning from ear to ear, they came over and surrounded the booth.

'We just wanted to thank you, ma'am. You know we can't get into confrontations with civilians, so we appreciate what you did.'

As I drove home, for the first time since my husband's deployment, I didn't fe el quite so alone. My heart was filled with the warmth of the other diners who stopped by my table, to relate how they, too, were proud of my husband, and would keep him in their prayers.

I knew their flags would fly a little higher the next day. Perhaps they would look for more tangible ways to show their pride in our country, and the military that protect her. And maybe, just maybe, the two women who were railing against our country would pause for a minute to appreciate all the freedom America offers, and the price it pays to maintain its freedom.

As for me, I have learned that one voice CAN make a difference.

Maybe the next time protesters gather outside the gates of the base where I live, I will proudly stand on the opposite side with a sign of my own. It will simply say, 'Thank You!'

To those who fought for our nation, freedom has a flavor the protected will never know.

GOD BLESS AMERICA !
 

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O that brought tears to my eyes, I cannot begin to imagine what our service people go thru.

I hope everyone, regardless of their opinion on this and other wars, takes a minute to pray for our service people and their families
 

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Thank you for sharing that. Bravo.

My grandfather died at age 32 in Italy while serving in WW2. He received the Bronze Star because he died trying to help some fellow soldiers get out of a mine field in the night.

I obviously never met him.....but I am so very proud of him. He is buried in Italy, where he died.

I talk to WW2 vets whenever I see one. They are unfailingly polite, and they all have a certain look in their eyes. And they make me think of my grandfather - these men are his peers, you know?

So yes, take a moment to remember.
 

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Thanks Tink. Tears streaming down my face here. Prayers for all our service men and women fighting for our freedom.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Lynn, My Dad served in Japan after the bombing during the restoration. Thank God he wasn't in battle, but that was one of the proudest accomplishments of his life. Here was this simple Wisconsin farm boy, never been out of the state taking off his bib overalls to put on an army uniform and ship to Japan. He taught us from birth to appreciate our military and freedom. He was an airplane mechanic and ambulance driver there.

Every year the local VA puts a flag on his and other local veterans graves.
 

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My son-in-law's father was in the Navy, stationed at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. He doesn't talk about it and it's hard to ask.

My ex-husband's uncle was killed in action in northern France on August 31, 1944 and is buried in a U.S. Military Cemetery in Belgium. He was only 26 years old. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star Medal and the Purple Heart. They are in my possession and will be passed on to my grandchildren, who are the only descendants of that family.

At 3 P.M. tomorrow please stop whatever you are doing and give thanks to the men and women who have served in the armed forces and keep in your thoughts those who are now serving here and around the world. They need our support.
 

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thank you for posting this reminder Tink
 

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i deliver to the VA hospital in Livermore , Ca..and often on my day s off will visit fellow Viet Nam era service men..

how unhappy and bitter so many of them are..not about the politician s
that sent them there..but, those who would not repect their service
to their country..

there was one whom i befriended and now has passed..his name was
steve..

he was wounded badly and lost both his legs..and much of his life consisted of being taxied to the VA hospital, then waiting for hrs. to see
a doctor..he told me..*i wish i had died then buried over there..atleast they would respect me as a soldier..*

luckily i had it easier when i returned..i have a great family who comforted me while i was despised by the public..

now i watch a Memorial Day special and now they are giving thanks to
the Viet Nam era service men and women..i still have a certain amount of bitterness in me..i like to think i came thru the ordeal pretty good and give thanks for what i have now...but, i tear to think about the loss s to those who were less fortunate..

some loss limp s, health, opportunities for gainful employment and
their dignity..then the WALL..when we re all gone..that s all that will remain to remind this country how horrible it was..not the war..but, the
undeserved home coming we received..
 

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My daughter's Girl Scout troop would visit that vet hospital. The vets were always so grateful for being honored and recognized. I tear up when I think of any vet and what he/she gave up for our country and get so mad at the thought of them being shunned. How heartless and selfish!

Is the VA hospital going to remain open? When we moved from Livermore in 2004, it was still in the balance of facilities that might close. If it does, some of the poor vets who get treated there will have to travel even further for treatment. So sad.
 
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