As most of you know, I always deliver Christmas greetings to our troops a little early. I have to because…well, you know, some of them are in far flung places and it may take a while to get from here to there. The elves are working diligently but occasionally get a little overwhelmed this time of year with all the mail needing to be sent to and fro. That’s why I take the opportunity to send my brand of Christmas cheer out early and I do it myself.
On that note…Merry Christmas to you, wherever you are. Know that your hard work is sincerely appreciated each and every day. America loves you, and so do I! That’s why I’ve loaded up my rucksack with warm wishes and good cheer for you. You’ve earned it.
Wishing you a heart full of love and laughter…
I find little bits of inspiration and motivation all over the place. Yesterday, I saw photos of Staff Sgt. Sanchez finishing the Boston Marathon. He was running with an American flag as he crossed the finish line and I thought it was a particularly powerful image.
Later, I read a bit of his story and in it he said, “It’s not for me, it’s for others to be inspired, to be motivated.” Oh really? Well, mission accomplished! I, for one, am feeling particularly pumped up.
This story makes me feel appreciative, fiercely proud, uplifted and infused with energy. We all have challenges we need to face. It helps immensely to see someone else who has successfully met challenges of their own. It reminds you of the possible and how though wounded inside or out we can overcome, we can heal, we can re-fashion the shattered pieces of ourselves and continue to go forward…maybe just not the way we’d originally planned but forward nevertheless.
Staff Sgt. Sanchez’s story as featured on NBC Sports sponsored Olympic Talk.
“On the best day for Americans in the Boston Marathon’s prize-money era, it was a man who took nearly six hours to finish who provided the most indelible image of American pride.
Staff Sgt. Jose Luis Sanchez, a retired Marine who lost the lower part of his left leg stepping on an IED in Afghanistan in 2011, was filmed and photographed throughout Monday’s 26.2-mile race.
Sanchez wore a “Semper Fi” shirt, ran on a prosthetic left leg and carried an American flag.
“I wanted to not only recognize veterans, but everyone that thinks that they’re unable to do something,” Sanchez told media afterward. “I couldn’t stand up for more than three seconds or walk more than two feet [after stepped on an IED]. And I found my for four, five years, just to be able to walk farther, be able to lift my body up. I kept on pushing it. Mentally and spiritually, I was good, so I wanted to push it even farther and do the marathon.”
The flag Sanchez carried Monday was full of inspirational messages. Via Runner’s World:
The flag was sent to him by his patrol unit as he recovered in the hospital.
“I boxed it up for three or four years because I didn’t want to acknowledge it,” Sanchez said. “One day I opened it back up and read through the inspirational quotes they sent me and I was motivated.”
“It’s not for me, it’s for others to be inspired, to be motivated,” Sanchez said on local Boston TV in the finish area. “We live for others. I’ve learned that throughout being angry, being frustrated. With all that PTSD, I’m channeling it to do positive.”
He previously ran the Boston Marathon and Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., last year, carrying that same flag.”
For our American warriors…for those who fight under our flag.
We never forget you’re out there and the hard work you put in day after day.
71 years ago today, our Marines raised the flag at Iwo Jima.
Here is a lovely write up detailing part of our history. It was created by one of my favorite, fellow bloggers and it’s wonderful reading. It begins…
“Today was the day in 1945 that our flag was raised – TWICE – on Iwo Jima by our courageous Marines… and there there is only ONE movie of the historic event explained in my story below.”
November 10th is when we celebrate the birthday of the United States Marine Corps. Over the years our faithful Marines have given us plenty to celebrate!
“My only answer as to why the Marines get the toughest jobs is because the average Leatherneck is a much better fighter. He has far more guts, courage, and better officers…These boys out here have a pride in the Marine Corps and will fight to the end no matter what the cost.” (2nd Lt. Richard C. Kennard, Peleliu, World War II)
“The Marines…will never disappoint the most sanguine expectations of their country. Never! I have never known one who would not readily advance in battle.” (Capt. C. W. Morgan, USN in a letter to Brevet BGen Archibald Henderson, 1852
“Civilians are like beans; you buy ’em as needed for any job which merely requires skill and savvy. But you can’t buy a fighting spirit.” (Robert A. Heinlein)
I went to an event out of town recently and who did I run into? Some of America’s best men. They were a pleasure to talk to. They represented the Marine Corps beautifully. I know their families are proud of them…and so am I.
This letter was written by Hunter R. last year when she was 16 years old. She wrote it for my book, Words For Warriors. Words For Warriors is a book I published with a little help from my friends. I pass it out for free at VA hospitals/clinics, to organizations that serve veterans and I give copies to individual veterans and their families.
“Don’t be afraid of your fears. They’re not there to scare you. They’re there to let you know that something is worth it.” ― C. JoyBell C.
Opening my eyes this morning, the first thing I saw was my room, as humble and unchanged as ever. I heard the cliché bird chirping of my alarm going off and I groaned as I forced myself out of bed. There is nothing to be afraid of in my morning. The monotony is satisfying and something that I know will stay consistent.
As a protector of this country, there is not that satisfying monotony. Waking up in a different area constantly, to new sounds and strange people, is normal. During times of fighting, fear is evident from the time your eyes open to the time your eyes close. Fighting for something you consider worthwhile is the most courageous endeavor you can face. Anyone can become accustomed to routines, but it takes a true hero to be willing to face the unknown.
As warriors, fear is not a wall, but an obstacle that can be taken over with willpower. There is nothing more valiant than to fight for what you believe in. Thank you for putting yourselves into the unknown, and being the epitome of strength.
A few days ago I was in the grocery store on my way to workout. I was wearing this shirt along with my black baseball hat that has a Marine Corps pin in it (I wear it most days).
A store employee stopped me and asked if I was a Marine. On the rare occasions someone asks me about a military shirt I’m wearing, I tell them I wear it in support of friends, so that’s what I said. He proceeded to explain that I didn’t have the right to wear the shirt since I didn’t earn it. He said his son was a Marine and I was insulting them and being disrespectful. I tried to explain but he was having none of it and just kept re-stating his position. He was quite cemented in his view. I left the store feeling awful, mostly because I was unprepared for the conversation and was disappointed in my own response. Nothing like that has ever happened before so I was caught off guard. I went looking for peanut butter and instead got a lecture from a stranger…and I didn’t respond correctly.
Let’s see….why do I have this shirt? Because a Marine asked me to post a photo wearing it…a Marine I was pen pals with through two deployments in Afghanistan. Where did the pin come from? A friend I met a the gym long ago, a Marine, who served in Vietnam. It happens to be something I treasure which is why it’s pinned to a hat I wear all the time. If you look at a couple of the photos I posted from my trip to Jamaica, you’ll see the same baseball hat. Where I go, it goes. I didn’t wear it on the plane ride over so I put it in my purse. I wasn’t about to check it in my luggage. I wouldn’t be happy if I lost my bathing suits and clothing but I’d be VERY upset if the airline lost my hat (and therefore my Marine Corps pin). I guard it carefully.
I’m sure somewhere in the world there might be a Marine who wouldn’t be happy to see me wearing my shirt or pin. I haven’t met him yet. I’m guessing this man’s son said he didn’t like to see people putting on Marine Corps stuff and pretending to be Marines. That would absolutely, rightfully be upsetting….to me too. Stolen valor is no joke and there are slimy people out there that get a kick out of pretending to be something they’re not.
The man was right about one thing. I didn’t earn those things but they were given to me by people who did so as far as I’m concerned I’m “walking on the right side of the law.”
The thing I re-learned from this is that no matter what there are people who will misunderstand you. They will express their opinion and they can’t be reasoned with. It’s not worth trying. It’s a waste of breath, brain bandwidth and precious time. Next time I’ll simply thank the person politely for “their unsolicited opinion,” turn my back and walk away.
Tuesday afternoon, I had finished my workout, completed a project and run errands. I happily sat down in my comfy chair to read for a few moments. I picked up my new book The Trident by Jason Redman (with John R. Bruning) and proceeded to read contentedly along until I hit a brick wall. Not an actual wall of course, a wall of words but it hurt like hitting a wall might.
Jason Redman was describing an experience he and his wife had when traveling back and forth across the country for his medical care. Jason had been severely wounded in battle. He suffered damage to his face among other injuries. He wrote
Erica was right. I needed to lighten up. The rest of the trip, I attempted to make small talk with those around us, only to discover that most folks assumed I’d been in a car wreck or some sort of accident. We’d been at war for six years, and not a single person considered that these grievous wounds could have been inflicted on the battlefields as we fought to preserve their freedom.
Iraq, Afghanistan — they barely touched those here at home enjoying the prosperity and peace of a successful nation not ravaged by war. This wasn’t the full national effort of World War II; the onus of this war fell on the strong but narrow shoulders of the volunteers who chose to defend the nation. And their families. The small talk I tried to make ended up affecting me deeply. What value was the sacrifice so many of my brothers had made if the people for whom they gave their last full measure were not even aware of their devotion? It was a troubling question, one that I dwelled on many times in the months ahead. (Pages 332-333)
I shut the book, put it down in my lap and thought. I could feel words welling up as they sometimes do, clamoring over each other demanding release. It’s on those occasions I HAVE to write, I have to somehow offer a response, to speak back. Yes, odd though it is there are times I write to people who I don’t know and who will never read my words. I composed an open letter inspired by Jason’s passage, intended for all of those out there who “guard the perimeter.”
I have never seen you face to face but I see you nevertheless.. I feel you. I know you’re there. You live in my thoughts, you animate my prayers and rest assured, there are many more just like me. In your darkest hours, in the glow of your greatest victories, you are never alone.
It is true that there are many who enjoy the fruits of your labor, who do not understand your work, who never stop to think about or appreciate you. Isn’t it ironic that the peace you’ve won with diligent effort, the freedoms and liberties you’ve protected with sweat and blood are precisely the things that separate you from their consideration? You see, when you have been shielded by men with steady hearts and fierce attention, when you have been so consistently relieved from the wolf at the door that you don’t even know wolves exist then you are released to live without any thought of how your environment came to be…or who brought it to bear.
Even so, there are others, like me, who do think about it. Others, outside of your own families, friends, teams and groups who do know. We have tremendous appreciation for you. We think about the skill you display, we admire the focus you bring to your training and we are awestruck by the willing spirit that lets you stand toe to toe with the most loathsome evils the world can produce and snatch victories out of the clutches of darkness. We also know that it comes with a price, a daunting price, one that you’ve proven over and over again that you (and your brothers) are willing to pay.
I wish that we had a better way to convey our understanding and feeling of kinship with you. Words seem so very thin. Perhaps if I were able to gather “gratitude” in every language, melt it all together and fashion a new, better, more robust utterance it would mean what it should. As it is I am relegated to the words I have at hand.
What you do is not obscured from all of us. Some of us see and we are more in number than you know.
With love and respect,
*Thank you, my friends, for indulging me yet again. I do veer off topic at times but there are occasions when something is laid upon my heart and it’s a blessing to have a place to express it. *