Tag Archives for " Veterans "

Your Sacrifices Are Our Freedoms

To the American Veteran:

Thank you.

Those two words never seem to be adequate. They do not hold enough space for the depth of gratitude I feel in my heart and deeper into my soul.  

Courtesy of Paige Kimball Photography

Courtesy of Paige Kimball Photography

I’ve learned to recognize you from a distance because I have the true honor of sitting so closely with many of your brothers and sisters. My respect and gratitude grow as I am entrusted with the dark experiences and naked truths of war, as well as the residual anguish it sloppily leaves behind.

With each autobiography bestowed to me, my heart aches to heal whatever brokenness there may be. But I know that is not what you want. Warriors go into battle expecting scars and you should be proud of your scars. Just like a little child with a band aid, you want to tell the story of your scars. As the community you protect, that’s where we have failed you. We have failed you war after war.

We like to celebrate you when you return to the Land of the Free. It makes us feel good to wave our flags and shake your hands. We readily accept this ambience of American glory.

But our actions scream: please don’t tell us the truth about what we sent you to do. We are way too fragile to hear your reality. Please keep that to yourself – our children might get frightened or think that behavior is ok!

Yet, you humbly honor this silently requested censorship of your life as a warrior. You continue to covertly carry the often awkward and heavy rucksack filled with wounds and memories—the part of the uniform that will never be eliminated. It is you and you are it.

There are many of us who do not want you to hesitate to share your story. It is important to us because we know our daily freedoms are the result of your service and your sacrifices that have shaped your story.

When you thank a veteran for their service, show sincere gratitude with intentional curiosity and listening. They likely gave you years of their lives; give them 20 minutes to tell you pieces of their service story. Let us sit with them as they recount their truths.

© Rebecca G. Townsend 2016

Dear Soldier

Dear Soldier,

Today, as I sit in a warm house with children playing, conversations ending in laughter, and endless amounts of home cooked foods, I remember you.

I remember your unpretentious sacrifices and modest heroism.

I remember your warrior ethos - you will always place the mission first; you will never accept defeat; you will never quit; and you will never leave a fallen comrade.

National Guard - Dear Soldier

Photo courtesy of National Guard

I remember your job duties never end.

I remember you have bravely faced terrors no man or woman should face.

I remember you have chosen to uphold and protect my freedom and my family’s freedom.

And, I remember that today you may not be sitting with loved ones, but rather with your fellow Soldiers in a foreign land.

I do not know you by name and I do not know your story. Yet, I am grateful for you. I am grateful for the choices you have made - the decision to serve our nation – to protect our nation and her people.

I do not fail to notice these choices have cost you time with your loved ones. I do not take your selfless act of service for granted.

I am thankful for you, our American Soldier.


We Are The Lucky Ones

We sleep safely in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would harm us

~ George Orwell

I am a lucky one.

I am given a precious gift nearly every day. Some of these gifts are delivered with great caution and some are readily surrendered. I have protected and preserved these gifts within me for years.

I treasure their words, their silence, their fears, their regrets, their laughter, and their tears. I hold them in my heart and my soul and they have become part of me. Their pain flows through me and I want to keep their burdens and carry them – at least for a few miles of the long journey. They have lugged these ruck sacks of emotions alone, in silence and in pain. It has been long enough.

With the skill of a parachute rigger, they have packed their burdens tightly and carefully, ensuring they are revealed only when deliberately intended. If any bit of emotional fabric emerges, their safety is in question. You don’t want to jump with a pack that isn’t properly packed – talk about being vulnerable.

Some of these injuries from decades ago appear to be fully healed on the surface, yet, the toxins of war continue to infect and destroy their spirit, contaminating the relationships they have with others…isolating them even further.

And somehow, I am the lucky one. I am honored and humbled as I am entrusted to soothe and restore the soul wounds our Warriors.

Words do not seem adequate - there is not enough depth in any word or combination of words to reveal the indebtedness and gratitude I feel for our Nation’s Veterans.

Thank you, Veterans. God Bless each of you and your loved ones. I am indebted to you for the ease of my life.

Believe. Create. Live.

© 2014 Rebecca G. Townsend

Six Million Minutes of War

As my sufferings mounted I soon realized that there were two ways in which I could respond to my situation -- either to react with bitterness or seek to transform the suffering into a creative force. I decided to follow the latter course. ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

9-11-6It has been thirteen years. In many ways, the calendar has moved so quickly – is it possible there are 676 weeks separating us from that day?

4745 days have passed since horror struck our nation of freedom…ultimately ripping so much from so many.

113,880 hours have elapsed…those hours have held the highs and lows of war for millions of Service Members and their loved ones.

6,832,800 minutes have included 6,830 deaths of our Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors, and Marines. 4,486 US Service Members have given their lives in Iraq and 2,344 US Service Members paid the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan.

And so many of our lives continue. Untouched. Unscathed. Unchanged.

Many lives are not unchanged simply because this is all they have known in their lives on this earth.

They were born into war. Have grown up with war. No nothing but war.

It hurts my heart to realize those young hearts cannot even experience peace on this soil – where the war continues amongst ourselves.

The division…the extremes…the assumptions…the arrogance in presumption…the selfishness in deception.

We are fighting two wars.

The war continues overseas with our honored Service Members withstanding attacks and battles. Sacrificing their well-being to protect others from the chaos and pain of bloodshed.

Yet, we struggle in our own warfare on this land of freedom. The conflicts and clashing have ravaged our spirits…disheartening our belief in one another…weakening the bond between all Americans.

Thirteen years after 9/11, I remain hopeful peace will be given to our Service Members and their loved ones and healing the soul wounds of war can begin and continue.

How can they heal in what we have created in this land? If we wish to support our Warriors upon their return, we must be able to offer them peace on the homefront.

How can you create peace in your corner? Calm connections are contagious…but it must start somewhere. Will it be with you?

Believe. Create. Live.
© 2014 Rebecca G. Townsend