Each year my letter to troops stationed overseas is similar. Each year I question whether I should write something new, if it’s “cheating” to say the same thing. In the end I realize that thank you never gets old, it never needs to be re-written. Thank you doesn’t have an expiration date.
This year we went to buy items for the care package drive sponsored by the Darien Little League. Volunteers collect supplies including toiletries, non-perishable food, and games and send them to soldiers far from home. While the supplies are important, and more than 500 boxes will go, the most important items sent are the letters. The letter I sent this year has the same theme: bravery– chance or choice?
May 28, 2011
My family and I are sending you some supplies on this Memorial Day Weekend. We want you to know that we have not forgotten you or the sacrifice you are making every day to be away from your own families and in harm’s way. It’s not much, but perhaps knowing you are in our hearts and minds will help.
Four years ago I was diagnosed with cancer (I am now in remission). When I was going through treatment, people called me brave. I didn’t deserve it. “Brave” was not a word you used about someone like me. I had gotten cancer by chance and I dealt with it, the best I could.
But soldiers? You are brave. You have a choice—you put your lives on the line after making a conscious decision to do so. You know the danger and you do it anyway. To me, that is true bravery, true heroism.
It feels good to say it, to confess it. I have been called a word I haven’t earned.
Seeing danger and making the choice to proceed anyway is precisely how I define bravery. We all find ways to deal with the fear of death. We know the uncertainty that lies ahead. We see the bravery in others before we will see it in ourselves.
What underlies bravery: chance or choice? Can both? Are we just hesitant to see the quality in ourselves? Are we just modest? Do we just act the way we need to, to get the job done?
I think when you choose to throw your hat in the ring, that choice counts for something. That makes you brave. That’s what makes soldiers heroes. Happy Memorial Day to you. And thank you for your continued service to our country.