We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.
My thoughts are filled and overflowing today. Growing up, Veteran's Day was for "older" people. It was hard for me to relate and understand. Now it is all to understandable to me. All too real. These are people that I know. These are friends and family.
- Specialist James A. "Andy" Burnett. Andy was wounded while serving as an airborne medic in the US ARMY in Afghanistan on Thursday, July 17. Andy was shot in the back of the neck by a sniper in what we now know to have been the most costly battle that the US forces have seen in Afghanistan in the entire length of Operation Enduring Freedom. The round severed a portion of his spinal cord and has, to this point, left him with several injuries and without the use of his legs. Andy has been in rehab in Tampa. His brother and best friend, Daniel, has been there with him. Both are amazing men and remind me so much of David and Jonathon in the Bible in the way they look after each other. Andy is beginning to go on outings from the hospital to the mall. Andy was just awarded his second Purple Heart for his service to our country.
- Master Sgt. Denny Pettway. When you look at the picture to the right you see my friend, Denny, and his beautiful wife dressed up and ready to go to the Marine Corp. Ball. When I look at it I see the guy whose locker was down the hall from me in 7th grade. That killer smile and those dimples. Girls all over school were "in love" with him, but I was lucky to be friends with him. We are still friends today. I get choked up when I think about him serving on the fields on Iraq. I get tickled when I hear him say that he served two tours of duty in Iraq without injury, but he thinks he needs full gear serving in the public school system. Just this year he has been head butted and bitten.
- Master Sgt. Brian McAnulty. Denny and I went to school with Brian. He was always smiling. He had such a mischievous streak in him. Soccer was his sport and he was talented. I can imagine him surrounded by Iraqi children playing a game of soccer. It is still difficult to look at that picture and realize that December 11, 2006, will be the two year anniversary since the CH-53 helicopter crashed just after take off in the Anbar province of Iraq.
- My Daddy. He would just hurt me if I posted his picture here, but my Daddy served our country in the Air Force. His time in the Air Force not only helped our Country, but helped prepare him for some of the work he would do in his "civilian" life. My Daddy is one of the most incredible men you will ever meet. A man of honor, integrity and loyalty. This Country was lucky to have him.
- There are so many more that I can think of: Mike McCollum (Director of Public Works for our small town who has served many tours), Randy Germany (BIL who was in National Guard), Jay Germany (cousin who is active duty pilot), and many men who we go to church with who are in the service.
On this Veteran's Day, I say what is most appropriate, but also so inadequate....