A Tribute To All Who Put Their Lives In Harm's Way

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    Please read .....

    I was sitting alone in one of those loud, casual steak houses that
    you find all over the country. You know the type--a bucket of peanuts on
    every table, shells littering the floor, and a bunch of perky college kids
    racing around with longneck beers and sizzling platters.

    Taking a sip of my iced tea, I studied the crowd over the rim of my
    glass. My gaze lingered on a group enjoying their meal. They wore no
    uniform to identify their branch of service, but they were definitely
    "military:" clean shaven, cropped haircut, and that "squared away" look
    that comes with pride.

    Smiling sadly, I glanced across my table to the empty seat where my
    husband usually sat. It had only been a few months since we sat in this
    very booth, talking about his upcoming deployment to the Middle East. That
    was when he made me promise to get a sitter for the kids, come back to this
    restaurant once a month and treat myself to a nice steak. In turn he would
    treasure the thought of me being here, thinking about him until he returned
    home to me.

    I fingered the little flag pin I constantly wear and wondered where
    he was at this very moment. Was he safe and warm? Was his cold any better?
    Were my letters getting through to him? As I pondered these thoughts, high
    pitched female voices from the next booth broke into my thoughts.

    "I don't know what Bush is thinking about. Invading Iraq. You'd
    think that man would learn from his old man's mistakes. Good lord. What an
    idiot! I can't believe he is even in office. You do know, he stole the
    election."

    I cut into my steak and tried to ignore them, as they began an
    endless tirade running down our president. I thought about the last night I
    spent with my husband, as he prepared to deploy. He had just returned from
    getting his smallpox and anthrax shots. The image of him standing in our
    kitchen packing his gas mask still gives me chills.

    Once again the women's voices invaded my thoughts. "It is all about
    oil, you know. Our soldiers will go in and rape and steal all the oil they
    can in the name of 'freedom'. Hmph! I wonder how many innocent people
    they'll kill without giving it a thought? It's pure greed, you know."

    My chest tightened as I stared at my wedding ring. I could still see
    how handsome my husband looked in his "mess dress" the day he slipped it on my finger. I wondered what he was wearing now. Probably his desert uniform,
    affectionately dubbed "coffee stains" with a heavy bulletproof vest over it.

    "You know, we should just leave Iraq alone. I don't think they are
    hiding any weapons. In fact, I bet it's all a big act just to increase the
    president's popularity. That's all it is, padding the military budget at
    the expense of our social security and education. And, you know what else?
    We're just asking for another 9-ll. I can't say when it happens again that
    we didn't deserve it."

    Their words brought to mind the war protesters I had watched
    gathering outside our base. Did no one appreciate the sacrifice of brave
    men and women, who leave their homes and family to ensure our freedom? Do they even know what "freedom" is?

    I glanced at the table where the young men were sitting, and saw
    their courageous faces change. They had stopped eating and looked at each
    other dejectedly, listening to the women talking.

    "Well, I, for one, think it's just deplorable to invade Iraq, and I
    am certainly sick of our tax dollars going to train professional baby
    killers we call a military."

    Professional baby killers? I thought about what a wonderful father
    my husband is, and of how long it would be before he would see our children
    again.

    That's it! Indignation rose up inside me. Normally reserved, pride
    in my husband gave me a brassy boldness I never realized I had. Tonight one
    voice will answer on behalf of our military, and let her pride in our
    troops be known.

    Sliding out of my booth, I walked around to the adjoining booth and
    placed my hands flat on their table. Lowering myself to eye level with
    them, I smilingly said, "I couldn't help overhearing your conversation.

    You see, I'm sitting here trying to enjoy my dinner alone. And, do
    you know why? Because my husband, whom I love with all my heart, is halfway around the world defending your right to say rotten things about him."

    "Yes, you have the right to your opinion, and what you think is none
    of my business. However, what you say in public is something else, and I
    will not sit by and listen to you ridicule MY country, MY president, MY
    husband, and all the other fine American men and women who put their lives
    on the line, just so you can have the "freedom" to complain. Freedom is an
    expensive commodity, ladies. Don't let your actions cheapen it."

    I must have been louder that I meant to be, because the manager came
    over to inquire if everything was all right. "Yes, thank you," I replied.
    Then turning back to the women, I said, "Enjoy the rest of your meal."

    As I returned to my booth applause broke out. I was embarrassed for
    making a scene, and went back to my half eaten steak. The women picked up
    their check and scurried away.

    After finishing my meal, and while waiting for my check, the manager
    returned with a huge apple cobbler ala mode. "Compliments of those
    soldiers," he said. He also smiled and said the ladies tried to pay for my
    dinner, but that another couple had beaten them to it. When I asked who,
    the manager said they had already left, but that the gentleman was a
    veteran, and wanted to take care of the wife of "one of our boys."

    With a lump in my throat, I gratefully turned to the soldiers and
    thanked them for the cobbler. Grinning from ear to ear, they came over and
    surrounded the booth. "We just wanted to thank you, ma'am. You know we
    can't get into confrontations with civilians, so we appreciate what you did."

    As I drove home, for the first time since my husband's deployment, I
    didn't feel quite so alone. My heart was filled with the warmth of the
    other diners who stopped by my table, to relate how they, too, were proud
    of my husband, and would keep him in their prayers. I knew their flags
    would fly a little higher the next day.

    Perhaps they would look for more tangible ways to show their pride
    in our country, and the military who protect her. And maybe, just maybe,
    the two women who were railing against our country, would pause for a
    minute to appreciate all the freedom America offers, and the price it pays
    to maintain it's freedom.

    As for me, I have learned that one voice CAN make a difference.
    Maybe the next time protesters gather outside the gates of the base where I
    live, I will proudly stand on the opposite side with a sign of my own. It will simply say, "Thank You!"

    (Lori Kimble is a 31 year old teacher and proud military wife. A
    California native, Mrs. Kimble currently lives in Alabama)

    To those who fought for our Nation: Freedom has a flavor the
    protected will never know. GOD BLESS AMERICA!
    (This was included with the above email)

    At 10 am yesterday morning I received a prayer request from Cathy
    Mitchell. Her husband, Tony, is an Air Force Commander in Afghanistan. She
    received an urgent email from him this morning. It said, "We need
    Christians to pray, pray, pray." Please pray for God's protection of our
    troops and HIS wisdom for their commanders. Pass this on to as many as you
    think will respond. "Lord, hold our troops in your loving hands. Protect
    them as they protect us. Bless them and their families for the selfless
    acts they perform for us in our time of need. I ask this in the name of
    Jesus, our Lord and Savior."

    Last edit by Frances LeMay on May 19, '04
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    I remember someone posted a similar story a few weeks ago. I stumbled across a slightly different version while surfing the web.



    (The following story was written by a 31-year-old California native who is now a teacher in Alabama and the wife of a serviceman.)



    It could have been any night of the week, as I sat in one of those loud and casual steak houses that are cropping up all over the country. You know the type…a bucket of peanuts on the table, shells littering the floor, and a bunch of perky college kids racing around with long neck beers and sizzling platters.



    Taking a sip of my iced tea, I studied the crowd over the rim of my glass. I let my gaze linger on a few of the tables next to me, where several uniformed military members were enjoying their meals.



    Smiling sadly, I glanced across my booth to the empty seat where my husband usually sat. Had it had only been a few weeks since we had sat at this very table talking about his upcoming deployment to the Middle East? He made me promise to come back to this restaurant once a month, sit in our booth, and treat myself to a nice dinner.



    He told me that he would treasure the thought of me there eating a steak and thinking about him until he came home. I fingered the little flag pin I wear on my jacket and wondered where at that moment he was. Was he safe and warm? Was his cold any better? Were any of my letters getting to him?



    As I pondered all of these things, female voices from the next booth broke into my thoughts.



    "I don't know what Bush is thinking invading Iraq…attacking another nation without provocation. There never were any weapons of mass destruction."



    I cut into my steak and tried not to listen as they began an endless tirade of running down our president. I thought about the last night I was with my husband as he prepared to deploy. He had just returned from getting his smallpox and anthrax shots and the image of him standing in our kitchen packing his gas mask still gave me chills. Once again their voices invaded my thoughts.



    "It is all about oil, you know. Thousands of Iraqi civilians were killed or maimed, not to mention the many American servicemen who are dying every day."



    My chest tightened and I stared at my wedding ring. I could picture how handsome my husband was in his mess dress the day he slipped it on my finger. I wondered what he was wearing at that moment. He probably had on his desert uniform, affectionately dubbed coffee stains, over the top of which he wore a heavy bulletproof vest.



    "We should just leave Iraq alone. Those weapons never existed. Iraq had nothing to do with 9-11. What happened to the hunt for Bin Laden? Bush forgot about him. I think it is all a ploy to increase the president's popularity and pad the budget of our military at the expense of social security and education."



    Their words brought to mind the war protesters I had watched gathering outside our base. Did no one appreciate the sacrifice of brave men and women who leave their homes and family to ensure our freedom? I glimpsed at the tables around me and saw the faces of some of those courageous men, looking sad as they listened to the ladies talk.



    "Well, I for one, think it is a travesty to invade Iraq and I am certainly sick of $87 billion of our tax dollars going over there. There were babies killed in the bombing of Iraq. I saw it on that foreign cable channel."



    Baby killers? As I thought about what a wonderful father my husband is and wondered how long it would be before he was able to see his children again, indignation rose up within me.



    Normally reserved, pride in my husband gave me a boldness I had never known. Tonight, one voice would cry out on behalf of the military. One shy woman would stand and let her pride in our troops be known. I made my way to their table, placed my palms flat on it and lowered myself to be eye level with them.



    Smiling I said, "I couldn't help overhearing your conversation. I am sitting over here trying to enjoy my dinner alone. Do you know why I am alone? Because my husband, whom I love dearly, is halfway across the world defending your right to say rotten things about him. You have the right to your opinion, and what you think is none of my business, but what you say in my hearing is and I will not sit by and listen to you run down my country, my president, my husband, and all these other fine men and women in here who put their lives on the line to give you the freedom to complain. Freedom is expensive, ladies, don't let your actions cheapen it."



    I must have been louder than I meant to be, because about that time the manager came over and asked if everything was all right. "Yes, thank you." I replied and then turned back to the ladies, "Enjoy the rest of your meal."



    Not long after the ladies picked up their check and scurried away, the manager brought me a huge double helping of apple cobbler and ice cream, compliments of the table to my left. I was so upset that I ate the whole thing.



    I turned to thank the soldiers for the cobbler, but they wouldn't hear a word of it, retorting, "Thank you, you said what we wanted to say but weren't allowed."



    As I drove home that night, for the first time in while, I didn't feel quite so alone. My heart was filled with the warmth of all the patrons who had stopped by my table to tell me they too were proud of my husband and that he would be in their prayers. I knew their flags would fly a little higher the next day. Perhaps they would look for tangible ways to show their pride in our country and our troops, and maybe, just maybe, the two ladies sitting at that table next to me would pause for a minute to appreciate all the freedom this great country offers and what it costs to maintain. As for me, I had learned that one voice can make a difference. Maybe the next time protesters gather outside the gates of the base where I live, I will proudly stand across the street with a sign of my own. A sign that says "Thank you!"


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