My family has always been passionate about the USA, passionate about what it stands for, passionate that it should continue standing for it. Freedom. The USA is about freedom.
That was the summary of the essay that one me a $100 savings bond in the third grade. Since then, I’ve learned more about the country’s history and more about my family’s, and although I might have a bit more understanding and more stuff in my head, I still believe that nine year old was right.
I never thought of my family as a military one. My dad was retired from the Army by the time I could walk. We never moved around the country or around the world. I never lost a loved one to war.
But as I’ve grown up, I’ve added together all the pieces that make up this military story. Grandpa Miller served on one of the only Navy units to fight in the Atlantic and Pacific during WWII. Papa Free came back from Europe with a Nazi gun. (Not sure he was supposed to.) There are little hints of service all over our house: a camouflage hat here, little Tabasco bottles there, and the mail to Dad, addressed to MAJOR MILLER.
Recently, my brother joined the National Guard. He left for basic training yesterday. The more I think about him being a part of this, the more I realize how equipped he was for his decision. My siblings and I have been taught all our lives about what military service is. It wasn’t glorified. It wasn’t demonized. Military service was something that was specifically about the core belief of the country. It’s about preserving what my family, what families all over the nation, hold dear. It’s about freedom.
I’m very proud of my family’s history of service, particularly my dad, who doesn’t parade it. I’m very proud of my brother and his willingness and devotion to freedom.
But more than proud, I’m thankful. I’m thankful for the military service of all of our veterans and their families. I think my 3rd-grade self probably said it better, but I’m thankful for each individual who preserves and cultivates and fights for freedom. May it reign.