To you, Soldier.

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I’m sitting at my kitchen table, holding my six-week-old baby, eating a cinnamon roll and enjoying a cup of coffee (thank you Maxwell House for never failing me). Coy is asleep in the bed, and his buddies asleep in the living room. Dixie Chicks are playing from my computer, and my dogs are outside raising hell (most likely about a leaf that rustled the wrong way). And as I sit here, freely, I am reminded of what today means.

Lets go back a few years. Well, actually, roughly 150 years back. The Civil War, which ended in the spring of 1865, claimed more lives than any historically marked conflict in U.S. history, thus sparking the motion towards Decoration Day (what later became Memorial Day). By the late 1860s, various American towns and cities had begun gathering in celebration and remembrance of the fallen soldiers, decorating graves of loved ones with flags, flowers, prayers, and love. The first official Decoration Day was initiated by General John A. Logan on May 30, 1868, where he claimed the day was “designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

Now let’s jump back to the future. What day was once dedicated to the celebration, the uplifting and remembrance of the brave souls who fought for freedom of friends, family, strangers, and all in between, has now been altered by modern society into a celebration for a three-day weekend, a chance to barbecue, and the official kick off to summer. Crazy how that happens, right? Somehow, somewhere, people have forgotten what today is all about. It’s not about the amount of Coors you can drink, or the rarity of your steak that cousin John is cooking, or the size of your pontoon that you finally get to take out on the lake. It’s about the people that made it possible for you and Aunt Peggy to sit and gossip about religion freely in the open, that made it possible for you to crack open a cold one on your day off of work. It’s about the people who DIED for you, who gave their life to ensure that you and I could live ours freely.

I couldn’t sit here, in my kitchen, with this cup of coffee, on my laptop expressing how I feel, freely if it weren’t for the brave men and women who have dedicated their lives to defending this country we live in. Black, white, brown, tan. Man, woman, boy, girl. Gay, straight, bisexual. Christian, non-believer. They didn’t think twice about who you are, what you are, or what you’re doing – so don’t sit there and tell me this flag, and these people, have oppressed you. They stood for you when no one else would. And they lay in the ground, while you enjoy the medium well steak and cold BudLight on this day off of work.

So remember, today is not about your grill. It is not about your boat. It is not about the lake, the steaks, the parties, none of it. It’s about the people who have died defending your right to enjoy that steak, to drink that beer, and to party your ass off.

So here’s to you, Soldier. You didn’t know me, and you fought for my right to write this post. You didn’t know me, and you fought for my right to be who I want to be. Today is for you. Yesterday was for you. Tomorrow is for you. Every day that I am free in this country, is for you.

This We’ll Defend.

Semper Fidelis.

Aim High; Fly-Fight-Win.

Non sibi sed patriae.

Always Ready, Always There.

Thank you.

Always.

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