What Is It That Is Worth Standing Up For

People often stand on shifting sands in terms of what they stand for or are willing to give of themselves for. When the cost is presonal, people often waffle. Many do not even know what is worth standing for or assume that because an issue isn’t personal to them, it doesn’t matter. Today, I was reminded point blank about why Memorial Day should mean something to all of us.

A woman from Sudan is about to be stoned for a heinous crime of Christianity. She is pregnant which is why the public outcry. Her only crime is that she will not renounce her faith and because of that, she will die an horrific death. While people can argue that is the barbaric culture that she is a part of, as a woman and as a mother, I am thankful for the rights my American citizenship give to me. With that thanksgiving comes an awareness of knowing that while my country is certainly not perfect, many men and women have stood and fought the bullies of this world so that I can have certain rights which include the freedom of religion.

My Phil was not an American by birth. He was a Venezuelan/French citizen. He grew up in a country where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. He grew up in a country where people are forced into embracing an ideology or be victimized. Crime at every level controls the citizens. At 18, my Phil enlisted in the Air Force to receive the gift of American citizenship. 26 years later, he gave his life to an assassin who sought to destroy the American spirit and the American gift of helping to establish a country. His crime? He was helping to set up the communications for the clinic, but more than that? His crime was what he stood for.

You see, Phil was the flag. He could have retired long ago or he could ahve taken the easy road and returned to teaching at USAFA when he finished his PhD. He decided that it was time to give back to the country that had given him so much. When I balked and asked him not to go, he told me that he had to go. he had to go because he wanted to be able to mentor both future military members and those wanting to change an oppressive society. He wanted to be a voice the embodied what is right and true in our country. He never wavered from his loyalty and thanksgiving for the freedoms and opportunities given to him with his citizenship. he chose to be the red, white, and blue American flag waving in the wind.

Today, I met another man who stands for our flag–who is the flag. I asked for a military discount at Biaggi’s in Peoria, IL. Biaggi’s does not give a military discount, but the chef extended one to me any way. When I told my waitress to tell the chef that this Gold Star wife appreciated him, she did not understand, but Michael, the chef did. You see, Michael is a wounded warrior who left part of himself in giving opportunities and freedoms for others. Michael stood tall and proud as he shared his military service with me. Few understand.

Memorial Day is about more than remembering. It is about taking stock in what it is that we are willing to stand for, die for, give something for. I honestly took my citizenship for granted until I married my Phil. Having lived and worked all over the world, and with having my children serving all over the world, and with my Phil heaving his last breaths on dusty Afghanistan soil, I know the cost. I know what is worth standing for, living for, and giving more than humble thanksgiving to those who were willing to fight for and die for. The American flag is more than cloth….it is my military brothers and sisters then, now, and tomorrow.ImageImageImage

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