So its the Holidays. We look for gifts, spend time with our family and friends, observe our faith and enjoy some holiday cheer. While traveling for work on this last Sunday, I was reminded of something important that I would like to share with you.
We have all been in an airport at some point and seen a soldier or sailor traveling in uniform. Most of the time no one pays any special attention to them. There was one of these soldiers on the plane with me headed to Indianapolis. I have flown in uniform several times before and can remember how it was. Most of the time people paid no special attention to me, but every once in a while there was someone who would go out of their way to tell me how terrible the war is or how they don’t like what the military does. I would allow them to speak their mind, thank them for their point of view, and move on. Every so often though, someone would go out of their way to let me know what I was doing was appreciated. It always made me feel great to have even the simple “thank you for your service” sent my way. I decided to try and let this young soldier know how great it feels to be appreciated for his sacrifices.
When everyone had gotten settled in, I asked the stewardess to let the soldier know that he could have anything he wanted from the refreshment cart, and I would pay for it with my thanks for his service. A small gesture sure, but it was something I could do for him. Those small gestures can often times mean so much. For me, while I was active duty, it was the time that a Korean war veteran bought my wife and I dinner on her birthday just because he spotted me out in uniform and wanted to say thank you. Or the man in Boston that spotted me across the street and crossed over just to shake my hand and say “thank you for your service, and God bless”. I dislike big cities but he changed my mind on that particular city forever and reminded me what i was doing was appreciated.
Back to our soldier – I had the opportunity to talk to him for a few minutes before we landed. His name is Private Josh Kohl. He is currently stationed overseas and was on his way home for the holidays. I had offered to buy him dinner but after I learned that Indy was his final stop, well, family comes first and he had been away for a very long time. He thanked me over and over and was humble about his service and sacrifices.
It is interesting that this falls near the date of my cousins 5 year anniversary of alive day. For those that have served and sacrificed, an alive day is the day that you should have died, but did not. He was hit by a roadside bomb and lost one of his arms and part of his other hand. 5 years alive! Thank you for your sacrifices JR, you are a hero and appreciated by all of us. You can read more about my cousin Josie and JR here on her blog Simplicity Interrupted So many of these citizen soldiers have answered the call of our country and sacrificed so much for all of us.
Remember this holiday season that no matter what you celebrate, there is a soldier, sailor or airman out there giving up their family and home so that we all can be with our loved ones and observe our faith and freedoms however we chose to. They will protect our rights to do this without reservation or asking for anything in return.
When we left the plane, I held back a bit as I wanted to see the homecoming he was bound to have at the security checkpoint. I was not disappointed. I could see his mother, hands over her mouth, jumping up and down, tears streaming down her cheeks. Her son was home, safe and back with family. It was a wonderful thing to see and I am grateful for knowing the story behind his homecoming. Even a midst all of this, the young private took a second to say thank you to me as I passed by them.
Thank you private Kohl. God bless all of our servicemen and women, keep them safe and grant them all a speedy return home!
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