How can we ever thank our service men and women enough for being courageous, strong and brave, so we don’t have to be? How often do we actually reflect on the lives lost so we can continue to have our freedoms? Hopefully it’s not just on this one special day.

Our lives are flooded with so many other things besides the fact we are still a nation at war. I’ve not lost a loved one to war and can’t imagine the level of grief that would accompany that. As our country seems to spend a good amount of time debating over who said what, there are thousands of our military, in a strange land, wondering where they will sleep tonight.

I’m just as guilty of getting too caught up in my own life and worries to remember the sacrifices that are being given for my happiness. I’m going to make a conscious effort, as I gather my family around me during this upcoming holiday season, to think of all of the families who will be missing someone at their dinner table.

I also need to remind myself, when engrossed in a pity party or whining, these worries are trivial compared with the anxieties of those serving our country, as well as their loved ones back home. It seems the war has gone on for so long now, it’s taken a back burner to the days we all chanted “united we stand” as we continuously prayed for our military’s safe return.

I’m sure as the grandchildren get older they’re going to think their Gigi is an emotional old fool. If I’m able to pass anything onto them, I hope it’s patriotism. I want them to feel the heartfelt emotion that comes with saying the Pledge of Allegiance and to know all of the words to “The Star-Spangled Banner.” I want them to experience the tears that well up in your eyes while listening to “Taps” being played in recognition of the men and women who paid the ultimate price for our freedom.

Sure I get on my soapbox every year around Veterans Day, but the gratefulness and gratitude is there all the time. I am proud to be the daughter of a World War II veteran and sister of a Vietnam veteran and feel fortunate they both came home. I’m so thankful to have had the chance to listen to Dads’ stories of being a fighter pilot describing the flights, the bombings and the love he had for those who served beside him as well as shed tears for those who didn’t come back home.

Happy Veterans Day, Dad. Thank you for serving our country so proudly and for sharing with me so I could learn the true meaning of respect, loyalty and commitment.

Sandy Turner lives in Independence. Email her at