As I sat and listened to several Veteran’s Day programs, something boiled up in me. I heard stories of bravery and honor. I heard people saying thank you. I heard and saw many things that I believe make America great.

During this day, I couldn’t help but become overwhelmed with gratitude for the service that veterans provided to their country – to me.

I will have to admit, my experience with veterans is pretty limited since I only know one person in my family that is in the military – my brother-in-law who is serving in the marine reserves.

When he was making his decision, there was this scared feeling that came over my wife and I. Even though he would be in the reserves, we were still scared that he could get deployed. That we could lose him.

It was this thought that came from the back of my brain and caught me off-guard whenever there was a void that it could creep through.

Looking back on it now, I can’t imagine what it would be like to go through that experience as a parent, significant other or child. I don’t understand how others live with this every day their son or daughter is deployed.

Before his decision, I never really understood what it meant to give up your life in service to your country, literally and figuratively.

Even though in that moment we were scared for the future, I still had this sense of pride. My head was full of worry, but my heart was pounding feverishly with pride that he had done something so brave by giving of his time and life to serve his country. It was amazing to me that he felt our freedom was worthy of his life.

After he enlisted, my brother-in-law went through basic training, which included him being away for three months from the entire family. This short three months was hard on the family, and provided a glimpse into what it would be like if he were gone for longer.

It was a glimpse that made me realize that when people in the military are deployed for extended stretches, it is hard on a family. It is hard to only correspond through letters and intermittent phone calls, and yet it is amazing how much more you hold onto those mere minutes of time with your loved one.

He has since only been gone for short periods and has not been activated, but the small possibility is still there.

I have had a small taste of what having a family member in the military is like, and I now am very thankful for the sacrifices the men, women and families of the military give us every day.

Those in uniform today and the many before them are the reason we get to sit down and give thanks next Thursday. They are the reason my child can sleep soundly in bed without bombs going off outside. They are the reason we are a free society.

I don’t think I’ve ever thought about the military on Thanksgiving, but this year I am planning on being thankful for their service, and thankful for every soldier that comes back home to their family.

To all those that have served, are serving and are about to serve, we here in America thank you for your service.

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