A Salute to All Who Served – In Uniform and Without

Good morning. I hope your day is off to a nice start.

For those in the United States, happy Veteran’s Day. Today is a day when we honor those who served our nation, often at great personal risk, for the privilege of defending the freedoms we enjoy as Americans. And it is a privilege. Those of us who have worn this nation’s uniforms were proud to stand behind our nation and salute its flag. Some things may change over time, but this isn’t one of them.

For some of us, that service was a little less dangerous than others. I never saw combat, having graduated from high school three years after the end of the Viet Nam war. And yes, I know it wasn’t an officially declared war, but to the more than 50,000 wives and mothers who stood beside a flag-draped coffin, there is no other more descriptive term.

Every year on Veteran’s Day, I remind people that it’s not only about those who served. For every person wearing the uniform today, there are family members making personal sacrifices few can truly understand. And I think it’s only fitting that we would remember and honor them as well.

Some are living far away from the only home they’ve known, due to “needs of the military.” Some find themselves in a new home every three or four years. There are spouses, forced by circumstance to live and survive as single parents, often for years at a time. There are children who barely remember their deployed parent, if they’ve even met them at all.

They make ends meet with pay that, for many, is barely above poverty level. They see the doctor they’re assigned, rather than one they chose. They live where they’re told to live and move when they’re told to move. And they do this all under the constant threat of an unwelcome visit from the chaplain. It’s a life that most of us can never fully comprehend.

For myself, deployments were hard. Seven months at sea, on a ship with 5500 other men, working 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, and sleeping in a bunk so tight that you could barely roll over, the one thing that kept me going was knowing I had a wife who was keeping things going on the home front. Her strength was my strength. She served every day I served.

I saw shipmates get the news of a new son or daughter, and I tried to comfort another as he got the news that his infant son had passed away. I saw people open letters from a wife or girlfriend who could no longer handle the separation, and I watched others send a similar letter home. Military life isn’t easy, friends. It takes a special person, on both sides of the equation.

Every time we went to sea, we did so with the knowledge that at least one of us wouldn’t make it home. It was just a reality. Most were due to accidents. An aircraft carrier (or any ship) isn’t the safest place to work. Others were due to illness, overindulgence, and in one case, suicide. We lost 5 in one cruise. Five families left to put together what was left of their shattered lives.

Whether you believe this nation is what it once was, or that our freedoms are as bountiful as they once were, this nation is still worth whatever it takes to ensure its safety. Because, the nation isn’t a flag, fifty states, or a handful of politicians. It’s more than 330 million people, from all walks of life, every one deserving of the best life has to offer.

I grew up in a time when many, weary of the Viet Nam war’s toll, would gladly have eliminated our military. As I arrived home from my first cruise, we were greeted by protesters waving signs and chanting against our very presence. And I remember looking at them silently thinking, I just spent the past several months on the other side of the world defending your right to do this.

My wife didn’t have to leave home for that. She was there, every day, making sure I’d have a home to come back to. My daughter was an infant when I left the first time, and was almost five when I finished my last cruise. I can’t imagine the confusion in her little mind every time Daddy left. But she made the sacrifice as well. Yes, it even counts if you didn’t get a choice.

So, as we thank all of our active-duty and reserve military, retirees, and all who served, let’s take time to hug those family members whose service to our nation often goes unnoticed. To them, it was a labor of love. To those of us who wore the uniform, it was everything.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

What’s a Bed of Roses Without a Few Thorns?

Good morning, and happy Friday! I hope your day is off to a great start.

There have been several segments on the news this week about a sudden boom in the RV business, in both sales and rentals. It seems people have figured out that open air just may be good for you, not to mention a little bit of recreational exercise. Besides, most campsites are a little more than six feet apart.

I think this may be the first time in my life when I was actually ahead of a trend. Not by much, mind you, but enough to convince a salesman that the winter months may not be the best time to hold out for a higher price. We got a pretty sweet deal and were still able to find enough toilet paper for a weekend outing. You’d think they could have thrown that in.

As we near the completion of our first full week on the road, I have to say I couldn’t be happier with our new lifestyle. I’ve figured out this whole setup thing and can now have us leveled and hooked up in fifteen minutes. And, after a little over 2000 miles, my wife thinks I’m a fairly decent driver. That last one is nothing short of a miracle.

Sure, it’s not the same as living in a house. It’s more confined, the air conditioners are a little louder, you can’t take a Hollywood shower, and the spin cycle on the washing machine shakes the whole house. But the scenery is a lot more enjoyable and if you don’t like your neighbors, it’s only temporary. I can live with a few minor inconveniences.

Sometimes, it takes a crisis to make us appreciate the simple things. Okay, an RV may not be one of life’s simple pleasures, but it is one way to become a little more grounded and shake off some of the daily stress. It’s about families enjoying one another instead of the TV. It’s about bonding with nature and breathing fresh air. And it’s about emptying tanks full of stuff we’d rather not think about.

With anything, you take the bad with the good. For myself, pulling a valve every couple of days to empty a tank beats mowing the lawn, so I’m not complaining. But there is no change we can make in our lives that won’t come with some inconvenience. The question is whether the sacrifice is worth the gain.

And it’s that way with anything you do. A bigger house means more cleaning and maintenance. A new car means bigger monthly payments. A business means giving up some of your free time. And a boat, I’m told, is a hole in the water you throw money into. I get that completely. Our new lifestyle certainly isn’t cheap. But it’s simplistic, if that makes any sense.

Life is short, my friends. If there are things you want to do, waiting around won’t make them any easier to achieve. Besides, there’s something to be said for doing things while you’re young enough and healthy enough to enjoy them. The longer you wait, the greater the chance it’ll never happen.

That doesn’t mean you chuck it all and go for broke. But figure out what needs to be done and get moving. It may take ten years. So what? Wouldn’t you rather get those ten years out of the way now? I’ve mentioned before how hard it is for me to envision getting to my goal weight by losing a pound a week. “At that rate, it’ll take two years!” Ah, but if I’d started two years ago …

Set a goal. Work toward it. Understand and accept the sacrifices and be sure you’re willing to make them. Test the water if you can. It may be as easy as putting half your wardrobe in storage or turning off the TV a couple of hours every night to read a motivational book. Some sacrifices are simpler than others. But they can also be the hardest ones to make.

I’m fairly certain a lot of these new RV owners will be like the New Year’s crowd in the local gym, or the hundreds of thousands who start a new business every year. It’ll be fun for a while, but at some point, reality will check in. And that’s okay. They’re learning. And they’re gaining a better perspective on which dreams they want to chase, and which ones they’ll leave for somebody else.

You never know unless you try. I’ve been married for 40 years because I took a chance. And those 40 years have been a learning experience of their own. There were times we wanted to drain the tanks and move on. But the sacrifices have been worth the result. Define your dreams, make the sacrifices, and reach for the stars. We’re only here for a short time. You might as well enjoy it.

That’s all for now. Have an awesome day!

© 2020 Dave Glardon – All rights reserved