A Life of Service

Then it’s Hi! Hi! Hey!
The Army’s on its way.

Count off the cadence loud and strong (TWO! THREE!)

For where e’er we go,
 You will always know

That The Army Goes Rolling Along.

As I sang along to The Army Song at Lieutenant General Van Antwerp’s retirement party on Monday night, my mind flooded with mixed emotions. I felt encouraged, confident, hopeful, sad, angry, and filled with love, but tears of PRIDE clouded my eyes.

On a day that marked celebration for the United States of America, in the death of Osama bin Laden, I sat in a room of war heroes.  We were celebrating the thirty-nine years of service of a great United States general and his wife.  Men and women, wives and husbands, whose lives are dedicated to this country, and who have been greatly affected by the consequences of war, were all around me.

A few tables across from me sat Captain Scotty Smiley, my brother’s best friend, who lost his eyesight while serving in Iraq.  However, today Scotty triumphs in victory.  Scotty serves as the only active blind officer in the United States Army.  And behind me sat a woman whose husband was severely burned in the Pentagon on 9/11.   Every person in the room had been directly impacted by the events of 9/11.

But not one word was mentioned about bin Laden that night.

We were not celebrating the death of an evil man who attempted to strip Americans of all normalcy, but we were celebrating the life and service of an American hero; a man who symbolizes strength and honor; a man who represents the image of a great American.

Since the events of 9/11, many lives have returned to normal.  I often feel like Americans have forgotten the feelings of terror and anger that once overwhelmed all of us.  But there are people who continue to live with those emotions every day.  People like my brother, like Captain Scott Smiley, all of our armed forces, their wives and children who have sacrificed months and years away from their families; they live with the consequences of 9/11 every minute of every day.

Thank you General Van Antwerp for dedicating your life to serve this nation.  Thank you for being a great example. Thank you to the men and women who have served  and continue to serve this country well. And thank you to the wives, husbands, and children who have sacrificed more than I could ever imagine.  Americans are forever indebted to you all.

You make us very PROUD.

Monday marked a great day, and America stood UNITED.