Last week we discussed The First Tee of Memphis, which is impacting the lives of youth by providing educational programs that build character, instill life-enhancing values and promote healthy choices through the game of golf. This week, as my younger brother, who is a Marine, heads off to Afghanistan for another seven-month tour, let us offer a prayer of support and a personal “thank you” to everyone who places their life on the line each day to protect our freedoms.
Having family in the military and friends in the police and fire departments, I have a profound respect and appreciation for the sacrifices these brave men and women make for the protection and betterment of our cities and country. I also have empathy for that gut-wrenching and helpless feeling that can consume family members praying for their safe return.
The older I get, the more I realize just how fragile life can be; and, as a father with small boys, I have a much different perspective now on the importance and meaning of “family.”
One of my proudest moments was watching my brother receive a standing ovation at the Boy Scouts Dinner and our LPBC Signature Breakfast in February. My brother was an Eagle Scout and has always been a humble leader, placing his men first and giving them credit for success.
During his last tour in Afghanistan, his unit was ambushed and came under siege from all sides. They were in an area that had not been swept for Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), with a bunker that ended up being booby-trapped. Unfortunately, brave Americans lost their lives when the bunker exploded. My brother, who was a commander of the unit, immediately rushed out of his armored vehicle and ran through the unswept minefield and machine-gun fire to literally carry his men to safety.
For his bravery, he was awarded the Bronze Star with combat distinguishing device, which is one of the top military honors. As family, you read the briefing and your heart drops, but then you realize those men that were saved are fathers, sons and brothers who had family praying for their safe return.
Story after story detailed ambushes, explosions, concussions and firefights with rocket grenades. Scarier yet is the reality that the value of life is different in other parts of the world and that there truly is no safe moment.
It is important to know how much these men and women appreciate our prayers; letters and emails of encouragement; and small care packages, including things like granola bars, Twizzlers and wet wipes.
Let us never take for granted the impact our words of encouragement and prayers can have on our servicemen and servicewomen. Next time you see someone in uniform, please offer them your personal “thank you” and prayer.
Jeremy Park, director of communications at Lipscomb Pitts Insurance and director of the Lipscomb Pitts Breakfast Club, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.