Thanks to our soldiers
“I don’t know what’s so difficult about it,” I grumbled to my sister yesterday. “The Coffee Mate website says they still make pumpkin spice creamer, the stores have every other holiday flavor imaginable, but not my pumpkin spice!”
I look forward to my favorite flavored coffee every fall, but I’m too cheap to plunk down a fiver for a Starbucks latte very often. There are other brands of pumpkin spice creamer but none taste as good as Coffee Mate. I’ve been annoyingly verbal about my unhappiness over being unable to find it this season.
Shortly after our conversation, I received an e-mail from someone asking me how to send care packages to our soldiers serving overseas. I sent them a link to Noanie.com, one of the very best sites for matching people with units that truly need our help.
How ashamed did I feel when I read that a unit deployed to Afghanistan was requesting coffee and creamer, flavored if at all possible.
“Some of the soldiers’ families don’t send them items so we all just share what we have. We are working 12 or more hours a day 7 days a week and we just want something to keep us more focused on the mission. We would also like to write people and have people write us. Thank you!”
Here are men and women serving me, in a desert war zone, just wanting something, anything that’s a taste of home, and I have the audacity to whine because out of the 20 or more flavored coffee creamers I could buy at that very moment, they don’t have the one I want?
I am such a wimp. Most of us are. And as a society, we’ve become so pathetically thankless.
Today, and the next two weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, I am writing about gratitude. Thursday is Veterans Day, and that’s a pretty good place to start.
According to the US Department of Defense, approximately 1 percent of Americans serves in the armed forces. That means that 99 of us get to walk in freedom because one person is out there doing the hard work we either cannot or will not do to keep our country safe.
I come from a family with a long military history, and have loved several men who have served: my grandfathers, my uncle, my husband. Both grandfathers were injured in World War II. My uncle lost an eye in Vietnam. My husband brought home from Iraq shards of shrapnel from an RPG that landed within feet of where he was standing. And all of them came home mentally changed — some might say scarred — forever.
When my husband came home from Iraq, driving was one of the hardest things for him. He’d been trained to notice every bit of litter along the roadside, his eyes always scanning for potentially hidden bombs. I’d never thought about it before then, but what a blessing to live in a country where we don’t have to worry that every bit of debris along the road could potentially kill us.
Sure, crimes and awful things happen here in America, but compared with the rest of the world we are incredibly safe. And it’s because of the men and women who serve us in the military and first responders such as policemen, sheriff’s deputies, EMTs and firefighters. We owe all of them a huge debt of gratitude.
What can we sacrifice to say thanks? Or will we even consider pausing long enough to do that, as the holiday season bears upon us and distracts us with constant busyness?
Tonight while I slide into my warm, soft bed, a soldier on the other side of the world crawls under a truck for a catnap before heading out for another 24 hours on patrol. He takes a swig of warm, stale water from his canteen, uses his forearm as a pillow, and hopes that the spiders and scorpions as big as his hand will leave him alone today.
And all he asks is for someone to take a few minutes to send him some flavored coffee and a few words of encouragement from home.
God help us all if we’re not appreciative enough to do it.