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Monday, January 23, 2017

Thank You For Your Service

Recently I played golf with a buddy and we got paired up with two young men in their early 20’s. They were both good golfers and I could also tell they were very close friends by the way they constantly ribbed each other. As I often do when I meet new people, I asked them what they did for a living. Practically in unison they answered, “We’re United States Marines, sir. Infantrymen.”

Since I was raised in a Marine Corps family, I have great respect for all our service men and women, so I responded immediately. “Well then let me thank you both for your service.” They smiled at my small gesture of gratitude but at the same time I felt sad inside that these two men, who were so nice and so young, would soon be putting themselves in harm’s way to protect the rest of us. Saying, “Thank you” is nice, but on my way home I just kept thinking that I, in fact all of us, should do more to show our appreciation.

As I drove home I heard a story on the radio that reinforced my thinking. It was about a long-time San Diego Police Officer and how he found a unique way to show his appreciation for our military personnel. He was working in the San Diego Harbor area last weekend when he noticed a mini-van parked near the water’s edge. A young woman with two small children stood nearby. The children were only 2 and 4 years old and both were waving furiously as a large military ship motored slowly out of the harbor. The kids were screaming, “By Daddy, we love you”, over and over again. For a police officer who has seen so much unkindness over the years, this was a touching moment. He drove his police vehicle over next to the family and offered the children his microphone so they could amplify their farewell wishes to their Daddy. There is no way to know if their father heard them, but that’s not the point. Police Officers, Firemen and Military Personnel all put their lives on the line everyday to protect the rest of us and while we typically think of them of them as toughened, hard-nosed characters, the truth is quite the opposite. To be willing to sacrifice your own life for others is the ultimate sacrifice and truly models the heart of Jesus.

On Friday I was still thinking about that San Diego Policeman when I caught a little bit of the Presidential Inauguration Ceremonies on TV. I am not a huge fan of Donald Trump (although I do have high hopes for his success) but the main reason I watched is because I enjoy seeing the top-ranking members of our government surrounded by every division of our military at the beautiful US Capital Building in Washington, DC. The pomp and circumstance is awesome and it reminds millions of us that we live in the greatest country in the world, a country filled with people who are willing to sacrifice for others. I know Donald Trump’s theme is to “Make America Great Again”. But if you ask me or any cop, firemen or military person, I think we would all agree that he should change that wording to be “Keep America Great!”
This, then, is the state of the union: Free and restless, growing and full of hope. 
So it was in the beginning, so it shall always be, 
while God is willing and we are strong enough to keep the faith.
~ President Lyndon B. Johnson

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