POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Nov 11, 2011
America's history is replete with patriots who were willing to lay down their lives for the freedom for which this country was founded.
In every generation, Americans have answered the call to duty, and this proud, noble tradition continues to this day. Today, we still have more than 130,000 American soldiers deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan and thousands more posted around the world. Their service reveals their character, and their sacrifice brings honor to our nation.
These are the heroes we remember and pay tribute to on Veterans Day.
My husband joined the U.S. Army a month after the dreadful attacks on our nation on 9/11. As a result, he and I have had the privilege of knowing many brave men and women who have put on the uniform.
We've seen how difficult deployments can be, and the strain they can put on not just the troops but also their families.
But since my husband deployed to Afghanistan in September, I've come to see that knowing about a deployment and living through a deployment are two very different things.
Imagine being away from your family and friends for months on end without the comforts Americans often take for granted — a warm bed, flushing toilets or the occasional pizza night out with the kids.
Instead, for many soldiers, like my husband, life is a tent shared with seven other soldiers, port-a-potties, and frequent mortar attacks just yards away.
For other brave soldiers whose jobs require them to directly confront the Taliban on a daily basis, their bed is the ground, dinner is rations and firefights are commonplace.
For the wife, child or parent back home, we suffer the agony of separation and waiting. Hoping for the next call or next email from our soldier. Praying that a chaplain never shows up at the door.
With the service member who is away from home, we feel every birthday, every dance recital and every pumpkin carving that we will never share as a family. Even a full life can feel empty when you don't have your best friend to share it with.
While Americans may not agree on why or where the United States sends its troops, we should never forget the breadth of the sacrifice by our nation's service members. They accept the burden so that all of us, and our children when we are gone, will continue to enjoy the blessing of freedom.
Their story is not a new one. Our nation's veterans put themselves in harm's way because they believe in America and in preserving freedom for the generations to come.
These Americans have given up their time, their rights and sometimes their lives to defend our freedom and to bring freedom to others. These soldiers understand the meaning of the words "duty, honor and sacrifice."
We can never truly repay these American heroes for everything they do, but we can thank them. That's what Veterans Day is about — setting time aside as a nation to salute all those who have ever worn the uniform, from U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, whose courage and leadership I admired as a child, to my dad who volunteered for two tours in Vietnam, to my husband who is in Afghanistan now, and to the countless men and women who came before and after them.
Their sacrifice is great and understood by very few. I will never forget what we have asked them to give, nor what they have so willingly provided, in the name of freedom.