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Friday, November 4, 2016

Veterans Day is Every Day

Cody Anderson carries a photograph of Steve Tubbs,
who was then serving in Iraq, during a 2003 walk between
Naples and Fort Myers in tribute to U.S. troops
Why is Veterans Day so important? It's important because we are so blessed to be in a land where we are free and have the privilege of living the American dream. I think our veterans should be honored not just on Veterans Day, but every day. The sacrifice they have given for us is something we shouldn't take for granted. When a person decides to join the military, they are dedicating their life to our country.

I have quite a few veterans in my family. My dad, father-in-law, brother-in-law, grandfathers and uncles all served fighting for our country. My brother-in-law, Steve Tubbs, was the most recent serving two tours in Iraq.

I remember when my brother-in-law was serving for Iraq, how tough it was on the family, especially my mother-in-law. She told me it was hard having my father-in-law in Vietnam, but even tougher for a son to be fighting. I could only imagine what parents go through when their kids are overseas. It's tough on our military and also their families who are back home, some raising kids all alone. I remember one lady in church a few years ago had a baby and her husband missed the baby's birth because he was fighting for us. These men and women sacrifice not only their lives, but memories and life events with their families they can never relive.

Back in 2003, a man named Cody Anderson came into my office one day, while I was working for the Mayor of Fort Myers. He wanted to do something to pay tribute to U.S. troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan . If you remember back than it was during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was going to walk from Naples City Hall to Fort Myers City Hall, which was 45 miles carrying a U.S. flag. Cody's walk was to encourage people to adopt a soldier and send cards to them, to let them know we care. Cody adopted my brother-in-law, Steve, who was serving at the time in the 101st Airborne Division's 2nd Squadron, 17th Calvary Regiment. Cody had never met Steve before doing this walk and I remember him saying how honored he was to do this for Steve and the others serving. It made me so happy to see this and I knew how much it meant to my husband, my in-laws and to my brother-in-law. While Steve was still in Iraq, he wrote Cody a letter thanking him for his sacrifice in walking for him and said, "Nothing makes a soldier feel better than to be recognized, though that is not our purpose."

I saw how one person's kindness made life a little brighter for my family, while my brother-in-law was fighting in Iraq. Today, I watch how my 10 year-old-daughter, Graci and her friend, Ava, also 10 years-old, are sending care packages to the military serving overseas, as what started out as their school service project a year ago and has continued into a community project Operation: Military Matters.  While they were sending packages at the post office the other day, they were talking to a veteran who served in Vietnam and I heard him say to them, "I wish there were kids like you back when I was serving."

I think our veterans need to know how important they are and what they did and are doing for us does not go unnoticed. Don't just thank a veteran on Veterans Day, but thank them every day. We are free because of them. Freedom is not free.

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