September Surprise

September is one of my favorite months of the year. The weather is mild as summer winds down. Everything is lush and green again, and I make a point of taking it in for I know it won’t be long before it all will begin to change.

It’s also the month of my wedding anniversary. My husband and I celebrated 37 years of marriage this September. He is my true soulmate and I am so very grateful to have him in my life.

I’m also grateful for a little surprise that I was honored to enjoy during this September. I traveled to Carrollton, KY on business one Saturday. I wasn’t exactly thrilled to be working on the weekend, but it was all worth it when I happened upon the Traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which was on display at General Butler State Park.

I have seen the permanent memorial in Washington, D.C., but it had been a few years, so I decided to stop and take a look around.

The first thing I noticed was the quietness and stillness in the air, despite the large number of people visiting. I was glad to see that everyone was showing honor and respect for those who sacrificed their lives in this war.

Military members welcomed me and provided me with information, explaining the several memorials that were on display.

It was a humbling experience to see the vast amount of names on the wall, knowing that every name held a story.

I think, perhaps, the most moving part of my experience was watching those who were standing in front of the names of someone they knew and loved. Moms. Dads. Children. Siblings. All wondering, I’m sure, what could have been if their loved one had survived.

There were also many there who had actually served alongside some of those whose names were on the wall. I spoke with a few of them, and they were eager to share their stories about their experiences in Vietnam. They pointed out the names of one after another who had fought beside them. I realized that they hadn’t lost one family member, but several brothers, and their heartache still hadn’t completely healed.

I’m always proud of our nation’s military, who sacrifice so much to secure our freedom as well as fight for the freedom of other nations around the world.  But freedom isn’t free, and the cost to many is monumental.

I’m grateful for this September surprise, to remind me never to take my freedom for granted, and to appreciate those who have died defending it.

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