Thanks to those who 'guard the walls'

When a marine walked into a restaurant, a woman began thinking about all the people who have served their country.

Melanie stetson freeman/staff/file
GRADUATION: A group of Marine Corps recruits graduate from 12 weeks of basic training in Parris Island, S.C.

The other day my daughter and I met at the Devens Grill in Fort Devens, Mass., for a bite to eat and some chat time. As we entered the front door, a marine in full dress uniform caught my eye.

"Wow," I said to my daughter, almost walking into a table I had failed to notice, "whoever designed those uniforms should be designing clothes for civilians as well. We need someone who can get the kids away from those belly shirts and pants worn so low I don't want to know what's holding them up."

My daughter laughed. She's over 30, so she can afford to laugh at such fuddy-duddy comments by her mother.

When we got settled at our table, I felt bad for temporarily reducing the US Marine Corps to a statement of fashion.

After a moment, I started to think about what these men represent.

As actor Jack Nicholson so eloquently said in the movie, "A Few Good Men," our servicemen and women guard the walls. We sleep beneath the blanket of the freedom that they provide.

I wonder how many of us, as we climb under our covers each night, think about the fact that we can go to sleep without fear and that we live in a country with liberty and justice for all.

In America, we are free to speak, to worship, and vote for our leaders. We are even free to disagree with the way our country is being run, and, most important, are free to do something about it.

Sure, our leaders have made decisions we disagree with, especially when it comes to defending democracy.

We all have opinions on the morality, purpose, and necessity of each war as we wait for history to record which ones most people agreed were "right." But the men and women who have stood on the wall did so without question, without doubting the orders they were given. America's soldiers held that wall for us, right or wrong.

Every year in November, we devote a day to honor our soldiers and veterans and remember those who gave their lives. But when I think of those men and women who fought for our country, I also think of their families, their friends, and the dozens, if not hundreds, of people who are affected by each and every loss.

I wonder what this one day a year means to the children who have lost their parents or to parents who have lost their children.

In the movie "Shenandoah," James Stewart plays farmer Charlie Anderson, a widower with seven children caught between the North and South during the Civil War.

After losing several of his children to the war, he speaks at the grave of his wife, his words choked with tears.

"There's not much I can tell you about this war. It's like all wars, I guess. The undertakers are winning. And the politicians talk about the glory of it. And the old men talk about the need of it. And the soldiers, well, they just wanna go home."

So, this year, on Veterans Day and every day that follows, I will pray that all the soldiers come home ... and soon.

I know that bringing them home will not end all wars. But as I climb into bed on the eve of Nov. 11, I will dream that every one returns home, even if it is just for one day.

As my daughter and I got up to leave the restaurant, I walked her to her car and gave her a big hug, holding on an extra second because I didn't want to let go.

"Thanks for supper, Mom," she said as she got into her car. "Give my love to Dad. See you next week!"

It was as simple as that. "See you next week, Mom."

And I know we will because she sleeps under the same blanket that I do; that all Americans do.

It's the one that the marine and his comrades – and all those who came before him – so bravely gave us – the blanket of freedom.

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