As a little girl, my family would take annual vacations to Branson. We would go-kart, mini-golf, and go outlet shopping during the day and every evening we would go to a new show. Each show had their own unique draw, but there were a few overlapping themes you could always look forward to. There was always comedy and a lot of country music. There was a lot of sequins and cowboy boots.
But the thing I anticipated the most always occurred at the end of the show. My heart would start pounding because I knew it was coming. It happened every time and I had a love/hate relationship with it. Each show was closed with a combination of gospel music and a patriotic song, both of which I love.
The anticipation, however, was partly due to excitement because I loved it, but there was something else that made me anxious about what was going to happen. I knew that once the patriotic music started, my daddy was going to stand up and expect our entire family to stand up. This expectation was going to happen regardless if anyone else in the building decided to join us. Sometimes, we were joined in standing by everyone attending and other times our lone family stood proud while those around us set comfortably in their chairs.
My little girl mind would bounce between wonder and embarrassment. But, as I got older there was an understanding of the pride that was behind that small gesture. And, today, helped me understand that pride and actually be a part of it in a new way.
Today, my Godson Jacob graduated from Basic. I had been “prepared” by many as to what to expect, but the nothing could have prepared me for the emotion I felt in that moment. I sat in my chair fighting that lump in my throat. You know which lump I’m talking about. The one where once you give in to it, the floodgates of emotions rush through and come out in unattractive ways. But the pride was so strong in room as we watched the soldiers, the officers, and the families share in this moment.
It’s pride in the realization that these young men gave up every freedom for the past four months, in order that I could have a lifetime of freedom. It’s pride in watching as they went from young men to men that represented the army core values: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless-service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. They stood before us and promised to protect us and respect our freedoms.
I have a new understanding of why my dad had to stand up, because he had made the same promise years ago, along with several of his brothers, uncles, and cousins. The pride and love of country was still there.
While talking to Jacob yesterday, he talked about his own dad with such respect because now they had shared in this experience together. I think him knowing and understanding what his father had gone through deepened that respect.
And, it deepened my respect for my own father and the legacy of honor, courage, and integrity he demonstrated everyday.
Thank you to all who chose to serve! We can only partially know the sacrifices you made.