My father served in the Navy in World War II and my husband served in the Air Force at the tail end of the Vietnam War. Friends and classmates have served. I have always been in awe of their service and for those who served in the United States Armed Forces throughout these past 200+ years.
They have served and continue to serve the United States with dignity and pride. American soldiers have served to keep our country safe but most importantly to keep Americans, you and me, safe.
For a time, some years ago, my husband worked for a company that had contracts with the military and we lived in Germany. We had the distinct privilege to see first hand the military bases used by the Germans during the second world war. Military bases that are now American military bases.
American families resided on those bases in Germany while their spouses were deployed somewhere in the middle east. These wives and husbands raised their children until their spouse could return to them, if they returned.
The soldiers aren’t the only ones sacrificing for our freedoms, their families do too. Birthdays, holidays, special occasions all missed by the parent who is deployed. The children miss out. The spouse misses out. And the soldier misses out. All to keep our freedoms.
While living in Germany, we toured the German concentration camp, Dachau. It was much smaller than the original camp. A sculpture erected on a platform in front of the administration building in the main camp area was cast in bronze. I couldn’t tell what it was until I reached the middle of the camp area. I was directly in front of it and had to look at it for a minute or two to figure out what it was: Barbed wire with skeletons at odd angles. It depicted what had occurred there all those years ago. I stood there and cried.
On the opposite wall, a bronze plaque in five languages reads, Never Again.
Dachau camp was the model for the more than 15,000 camps the Germans built in occupied countries. To think that a camp that was originally built for 6,000 political prisoners had over 10 times that many people, including Jews, when it was liberated on April 29, 1945. Never again.
It was heart-rending to see the artifacts. While my heart ached at the loss of life in those crematoriums, I couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that United States soldiers freed prisoners in countless camps. I am forever grateful TO them and FOR them for their sacrifice and for the sacrifice their families give on a daily basis.
Today, we remember ALL of them. Our prayers are with those who currently serve and those who have served. Always.