They say a picture is worth a thousand words. As an English major I probably ought to feel insulted, but I will disarm for the day and let some family pictures do arguably the more important portion of the talking. Today, in addition to bring grateful to all the countless soldiers who give their all that we might enjoy freedom I'd like to spotlight my gratitude on a few within my family. My mother joined the United States Army shortly after coming legally to the States from her native Mexico and my father joined shortly after their marriage. My three older siblings, including the two below, were born army brats. My eldest sister, Crystal, was born in Fort Huachuca, Arizona, Coral was born when my parents were stationed in Germany, and my brother was born here in Tucson, also under the banner of red, white, and blue. I am the only born civilian of the four.
Growing up in these conditions, I learned very early the power and passion of patriotism and the fact that my mother came from poor conditions in another country added to the reverence I hold for the United States. Patriotism permeated everything growing up, from army games I played with my brother to the way my mother taught me to fold clothes and clean, to the adoration we had for this land of unparalleled freedom. Those formative years gave me an added appreciation when Coral and Joe entered basic training, not out of physical necessity but from heartfelt conviction, patriotism, and national passion. It lent me greater joy and pleasure when my cousins joined the Marines and were among the first to enter the war against terrorism in armed and life threatening earnest. By the time another cousin entered the Air Force I was way ahead of him on knowing what would befall in basic training and relished his letters describing the horrors of facing the gas chamber.
My dear friends, I very nearly joined your ranks when I came of age and it took a great deal of thought and love for my family to recognize that my place was not as an actual soldier defending her homeland. It was a difficult decision to make and part of me grieves that I will never take on the intense exertion of basic training, but I recognize that for my journey in life, it was not the appropriate course. However for all that my heart is with you, my fellow soldiers, if I may call you that, in gratitude for protecting the God blesséd nation and sacred soil I adore so much. I may not carry the insignia of the Army National Guard on my sleeve but I continually wear it in my soul. MY gratitude to you, my brethren and sisters in arms and thank you for making this the home of the free because of the brave. In God we trust.