I can't believe I did it.
When reading the paper the other day, I came across an Operation Iraqi Freedom "casualty list" section, briefly glanced over it and turned the page. Immediately, a feeling came over me as if I had been slapped in the face and an inner voice whispered, "shame on you."
It wasn't too long ago that my own husband was serving his fourth tour overseas in the United States Marine Corps. Looking back, I often wondered how many times I exhaled during those years as I would hold my breath anytime someone rang our doorbell unexpectedly or called our phone a little too late for my liking.
Scouring the paper each day, I would look for updates on the progression of the war and look for names of other military service men and women, all of whom I would consider my extended family, on "the list." And, unfortunately, the names of those near and dear to us appeared on "the list" several times throughout our military years.
After serving eight years in the Marine Corps, my husband left the military in order to devote time to our family and particularly our son -- who never got to enjoy the company of his father during his infancy due to an Iraqi deployment -- and join the civilian world.
How easy it has been to leave the military life -- the constant worry, the marital hardship, and the absences -- behind. How easy it is to get caught up in our every day life and forget the tough reality many military families face today.
However, in doing so, I have also forgotten a core trait of the military that should never be forgotten -- sacrifice -- so shame on me for glancing over the names of those lost without a care. It is this indifference that leads to forgetting -- something we must strive never to do in order to honor over 5,000 service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in order to honor over 133,000 troops currently in Iraq and 56,000 troops serving in Afghanistan.
So this Flag Day, when you see Old Glory grandly flying above symbolizing the freedom we have been granted, briefly pause to remember the many sacrifices of those who have served and are currently serving our country. Take the time to honor them by letting them know we have not forgotten.