Today is a day that we stop and take time to say thank you to the men and women who have given a part of their life, and in some cases, their life itself, to protect and defend the freedoms that many in this country take for granted.
Just recently, Americans exercised that freedom to make history.
Here, a week later, in a little school in a little corner of a big prairie, ranchers left their cows, farmers parked their tractors and an auditorium was standing room only, to honor the veterans from this small community.
In a land where the houses are few and far between, everyone came to show their appreciation. Even the local radio station showed up to broadcast the program.
Young voices were raised in song. “If you love your country, if you cherish your freedom, thank a vet!”, were the simple words sung in high pitched voices that brought tears to the eyes of those in uniform.
In this time of controversy over the current war, those from past wars rarely experience gratitude. This was their chance to bask in a moment of spotlight and ceremony.
A young man stands in uniform at the front and shares his experiences in Afghanistan. Of being blown up in his Humvee by an IED. Of the brothers that pulled him from the wreckage and visited him in the hospital. Pictures are shown of his wrecked vehicle and the aftermath of the explosion.
Young eyes gaze in hero worship and a taste of war is brought home. Little boys shake his hand and finger the medals on his chest.
He jokingly shares a MRE with a young man called to the front to answer war history questions.
Certificates of appreciation and small gifts are passed to the veterans by fourth graders wearing their fathers and grandfathers uniforms.
Several hundred people joined in singing "God Bless America" and "I’m Proud to be an American". Gray heads joined with young heads for pictures. The room is abuzz with voices, laughter, handshaking and hugs. Past and future; brought together in a simple program with profound meaning.
These men and women represent so many of the values of this community—hard work and dedication, family and friends, faithfulness, patriotism--- it seems that so many of these values are beginning to be lost in this fast paced technological age that we live---
But for today, in a little school in a little corner of a big prairie, they were found…..