This morning, in church, we had our service remembering veterans and their sacrifices to our country. The service is traditional and powerful, always including a time to invite veterans in the service to the stage to be recognized. Every year the stage is full of men and women, young and old, from all branches of the military. I’m always touched by this display and thankful to my friends and their loved ones who have served.
Two young men split the message today, both wounded in action in the Middle East, and both representatives of Operation Warrior Reconnect. They were poised, eloquent, funny, and emotional. The first spoke about being talking to his wife on the cell phone, in his bunk in Afghanistan, and having the building hit by a rocket attack. He spoke about the desire to keep fighting, even with deep injuries to his leg, back, and head. He talked about coming home and the struggle of his wife and family, about the challenges of adapting to normal life.
This soldier, and his wife, had both attempted suicide more than once.
A line from his story stuck with me. He said:
You don’t have to be in combat to get wounded. The key is to choose life.
Every day is a choice. You can live or stay on the sidelines. I’m tired of the sidelines. There’s too many goals I’ve put off for tomorrow, too many missed opportunities. What if we lived every moment as a chance to be at our best? What if every situation was there for the taking? How would your life look if you grasped all the promises of the next sunrise?
National Geographic made this their most recent coverage image. Photographer Martin Schoeller snapped this shot of Layka, a Belgian Malinois, who lost a leg from three AK-47 rounds in Afghanistan. Layka took this fire protecting a squad of troops. You can see her medal in the picture. There is something of beauty and power there.
I’d take a thousand magazine covers like this over the usual crap at the grocery store.
So this month, don’t forget to say thank you and welcome home to a veteran you know and love. We are free because some chose to stand and fight, to protect the innocent and right the wrongs of the world. Use their sacrifice and service as inspiration to fight your own battle. Find your day one. Turn away from the addiction. Call that person you’re avoiding. Write the first sentence.
Write the first word. Take the first step.
Seize the day.
Soundtrack Inspiration: This music video made national headlines as the David Crowder Band actually used Lite Brites in the filming. The story of the song will touch your heart.