I love seeing people stand up straighter, extend a hand to shake, or even open both arms out wide in embrace, when they see a member of the military. In shopping malls, airports, on city streets, these gestures of thanks and gratitude warm me up as much as I hope they do the military men and women themselves. But something occurred to me when I was witnessing one of these moments recently: do the families of these brave soldiers receive the same welcome when they’re out and about? Chances are: they don’t.
Military families sacrifice in a different way than their loved ones all over the world in uniform, but their sacrifice is no less noble or challenging to deal with. These wives and husbands, children, significant others, brothers and sisters, have a constant fear and loneliness that no one should have to be burdened with. But they are also so proud of their loved ones that they carry that burden willingly, proudly, but because they do not wear a uniform themselves, they often carry this burden anonymously.
This is where I think lapel pins fit into the situation. (You had to know I was headed towards it, right?) If you know of family members of the a member of the military, make sure they have something to put on their jacket, their hat, the strap of their purse, proclaiming “My daughter is in the Air Force” or “My Grandson is a Marine”. These pieces, much like bumper stickers you sometimes see on cars when sitting in traffic, are the uniforms these families should wear so that we can recognize them in public, and then thank them for *their* service.
Every day tasks, every day life, is drastically different for the families of military members. The constant worry, the pride, the sacrifice and the loneliness are battle wounds that these people tend to every day, and if and when I recognize these individuals in public, whether it’s from a t shirt proclaiming “Army Mom” or lanyards or lapel pins distinguishing them as one of these brave family members, I always make sure they know that I’m thankful for *their* sacrifice, as well as their son, sister, or husband. They too are paying a hefty price for my freedom. Thank you to *all* who serve: here, there, and everywhere.