Last night as I was watching the Halloween parade pour through downtown I was able to swing my hips with the cadence of the bands, point and wave hi to the Nemo float and cover my ears at the fire trucks. I was a kid again lost in the fantasy world that is parades. Clowns perpetually smiling, TV personalities perpetually on air, children perpetually running after candy, so much so they come within centimeters of being run over by floats. It’s a sensory overload for everyone present, and it’s so much fun. It wasn’t until the men and women of the military came through that it made me truly appreciate all the joys and silliness I had felt.
The army came through in their fatigues, saluting the flag that passed before them. The sight gave me goosebumps, it brought a smile to my face and without realizing it, I was applauding. No matter what your political persuasion, I think it would be hard to not respect these people. Whether you believe they truly gave themselves to our armed forces voluntarily or not, the fact remains they deserve our respect. Whether you believe war is something that should never be or not, the people of the armed forces are what make it easy for us to live the life we’ve grown accustomed to.
I have people within my own “circle of trust” that disagree with my political beliefs and I actually appreciate friendly banter about our differences. I appreciate it because it means we’re in a country that not only allows it, but also encourages it! The people that passed my family in the parade were the ones that have agreed to put my life ahead of their own, without even knowing my name. What a powerful gesture. Even if they saw it as the only way out of a life of poverty, they still had a choice. In life, there is always a choice; the options may not be appealing, or ones our society even discusses, but there’s always a choice. So in my mind, these uniformed soldiers chose at one point to protect my freedom and continue to choose on a daily basis.
Looking at the people, and perhaps more specifically the women, of underdeveloped countries makes me respect these soldiers even more. To hear stories of women being able to go outside the house without being completely covered, women owning their own business for the first time, women speaking their minds, women choosing… to know I’ve taken all those things for granted my entire life and to realize all of this was made possible by people in uniform.
Let’s be honest, it’s not about the politicians. They can order people to war but it is the men and women fighting who make it possible for us to do the things we love. It is because of them that people are able to ride around in cars claiming Bush is the next Hitler without the threat of being killed for it. Our freedom is a mighty beautiful thing and for that, I will continue to get goosebumps when I see the soldiers, I will continue to get choked up any time the Star Spangled Banner is played and will continue to support the soldiers, wherever they may be.
So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thank the women and men in all varieties of uniform, for giving me a life everyone deserves.