I love my country and everything for which it stands. I am so very grateful to have been born here into the greatest democracy in the world. I appreciate the freedoms that I have that allow me to be who and what I am and to believe whatever I choose. But, I also know that in order to have such freedoms, these rights have to be defended and although I would fight in many ways in order to defend these rights, I can't imagine being a part of the military that defends this country.
I can't imagine dedicating my life, even for a short period of time, to a commitment where I would put myself in harm's way to be a part of the military. I can't imagine committing myself to do whatever is necessary to defend democracy, both here and throughout the world. I can't imagine what a person must have inside of themselves in order to dedicate themselves physically and mentally to the cause. I can't imagine what it would be like to be deployed to other parts of the world, having to leave behind family and friends and home.
I can't imagine going into combat, not knowing whether I would live or die. I can't imagine what it would be like to be wounded in combat or sacrifice myself to save someone else's life. I can't imagine what it would be like to stay focused on the most important job one could ever have while a part of me was still at home with my loved ones and my thoughts constantly straying to visions of the day when I could return to them.
I can't imagine any of these things because I don't have what it takes to do or be someone of that caliber. However, that does not mean that I can't appreciate and be grateful for each and every military person, past and present, who has dedicated themselves to protecting me and the values and life that I enjoy. Each one of these people is my hero. They all have a strength and courage and heart and soul that I will never know. And on this very special national day of recognition, I want to send out my own thoughts and prayers and gratitude to them for their hard work, dedication and sacrifices.
I also want to send out my gratitude and thanks to every parent, family member, friend and acquaintance of our military personnel. Many of you have sacrificed a huge part of your own lives in the support and love and assistance that you have provided to those who make sacrifices on a daily basis that I can't even imagine. For those of you who have lost loved ones who were in service to our country, I send out prayers and love and gratitude for all that you have contributed. For those of you who have had your lives altered forever because of physical and/or mental injuries, I send you special prayers and hopes for the future that your sacrifices will serve as an example to others of what it truly means to be a hero and give your life for your country.
And although I can't imagine what it feels like to be you, I know that every time I hear a patriotic song or see you on the TV screen, I will say a prayer of thanks for each and every one of you. And should I pass you on the street, or in the supermarket or at an airport or anywhere, I will give you my own personal thanks for what you have done and are doing as you can't imagine what you mean to me and all of the people in this country.