There are those in our great country who know things that most of us will never be able to understand.
They know what it means to swear to put others before themselves in all things no matter what the consequences may be.
They know what it means to leave the comfort and security they’ve known their entire lives to train unbelievably hard so they may one day face the unimaginable.
They know how it feels to have pieces of their own personality slowly chipped away in order to make them better able to protect those whom they love.
They know the heavy sense of fear and responsibility that a piece of paper and a bag of equipment can bring.
They know the true meaning of words like fellowship, fraternity, and brotherhood – meaning that only comes when you place your life in another’s hands and know that they do the same.
They know the true meaning of words like sadness and loss – meaning that only comes when one you have shared fellowship with has been lost to war.
They know the horror of facing an enemy that views them as evil. They know the sadness of facing an enemy that is human.
They know the exhilaration that comes from battle, and the emptiness that inevitably follows.
They know the exhaustion that comes from waiting for days on end for a battle that may or may not come.
They know the joy of returning home safely to those they love after months away.
They know the confusion of finding that home isn’t what they remembered it to be.
They know the struggle of having to find their place within their own families after having been absent for so long.
They know the fear and sadness that comes with the knowledge that some never find that place, or themselves, again.
Most of all, they know the pride that comes from service, and the pressure that comes from being a hero.
To those who know, from those who are protected –
Thank you. You honor us with your service. May we all find ways to honor you every day.