Veterans Day

On Veterans Day, Offering Gratitude and Accepting It

An installment in the New York Times Deployment Diary

motherlode-veterans-tmagArticle-v2When I told the man at the baggage counter that my husband was deployed, he immediately replied, “Thank you for your service.” I didn’t quite know how to respond, so I smiled uncomfortably and nodded, graciously trying to clarify that my husband was the one serving. When I think of the phrase “service to our country,” I can hear the bayonets and see the tattered flag waving valiantly in the breeze.

I conjure images of the wounded, the battered, the proud declaring victory on Yorktown battlefield. I picture my grandfather in a foxhole in Saipan watching bullets fly overhead in the pitch black sky, a long way from his bride in South Dakota. I imagine my other grandfather, writing letters to my grandmother from Germany and asking about his new baby (my mother), only five days old when he deployed. I imagine the steely resolve juxtaposed against trembling bottom lips of high school students, taking their places on the front lines in Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf.

I think of my husband and our friends who have served in peacetime and in wartime, in jungles and in deserts, and I am humbled and honored by their commitment to our country. The land of the free, because of the brave. But never would I think of what I do — loving a man in uniform — as service.

Until today.

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