It’s Veterans Day and I’d like to thank my dad and Em, and all my current friends and relatives who have served or are serving.
I’ve pasted in a piece I wrote back in May or June a few years ago about soldiers from Otis, Maine. Some of you may have already read it. So no worries. It just seemed like the right day to post it again and the right day for me to remember.
When I wrote this, I never imagined that my daughter would graduate Harvard and enlist becoming a field artillery officer, but she did. The pictures here are of her.
Seven Handsome Otis Men
There aren’t a lot of people at the Otis town meeting, but you can tell that they are a patriotic bunch. They file into the Beech Hill School, Saturday morning, sit in the folding chairs and wait for the meeting to start. There are a few flag lapel pins. There’s a gentle hum in the air, but I’m having a hard time focusing.
It’s not because I have one minute to address the residents and to tell them why I’m running for the state house of representatives.
It’s not because I’m sitting right next to Brian Langley, the other person running for the House District #38 seat. I like Brian. It’s fun to sit next to him.
It’s not because one of the women in charge announced that she doesn’t like politicians and since I’m running for the state house, I am now officially a politician not a writer or a mom or a wife. My identity has become another label. I am suddenly a politician and therefore suspect. That’s not it though.
I’m having a hard time focusing because on the front of the Otis Annual Report are the pictures of seven handsome men.
Some of them are smiling at the camera.
Some of them look serious.
But these sons of Otis have a couple things in common:
All of them look proud.
All of them are in uniform.
I stare at the pictures of Michael Manheim, Justin Smith, Steven Wiesner, William Dunn, Ike King, Joseph Cammack and Jason Fishburn. Michael and Steven are in the Navy. Justin, and Joseph are in the Army. Jason is a Marine. William is in the Air National Guard and Ike is in the US Air Force.
Just seeing their picture makes my eyes tear up a little bit. Just seeing their pictures makes me think about how they made the stories of their lives about service, about putting everything on the line for us, all of us, even the politicians.
The Otis Annual Report reads, “Let’s Honor Our Local Soldiers. On the fifth anniversary of the War in Iraq, no matter where you are serving, our thoughts and prayers are with you.”
MORE THAN SPEECHES
And that’s why I’m having a hard time focusing. These seven men from Otis are more important than whatever I can possibly say in my one-minute “I’m running for office” speech.
People sometimes tell me that I’m courageous because I’m running for office. I was spat on. I was trapped in a house. I was made fun of. None of that mattered. ever.
I never know how to explain to them that I’m far from courageous; that running for office is a privilege that Americans have. It’s part of what makes our country truly special. We wouldn’t have that though if it weren’t for men like Michael, Justin, Steven, William, Ike, Joseph and Jason. Without them (and the men and women before them) risking their lives, leaving their families, working 24-7 in dangerous places, I might not be able to run for office.
These men are heroes, real heroes. If they get deployed and if they don’t.
And on Saturday morning I see their faces and realize how my story, and the story of Otis, would be different if it wasn’t for men and women like them.
I know Em’s story by heart because that soldier is my daughter. I know all the bits of her life that make her something much bigger than a demographic or a statistic. Not all soldiers are alike. Not all are in my family or my friends group, but all of them were and are willing to stand for a constitution and way of life that they believe in so much that they’ll battle for it.
The least we can do is fight for it in our own way too, make it better, preserve its best parts and build it up together.
I don’t know how I can ever say thank you to all our veterans for being heroes, but I know that I have to try now and keep trying, possibly for the rest of my life.
So, thank you Michael, Justin, Steven, William, Ike, Joseph, and Jason.
Thank you to all the men and women whose names I do not know and those whose names I do know. Thank you.
NEW BOOK ALERT!
My little novella (It’s spare. It’s sad) is out and it’s just $1,99. It is a book of my heart and I am so worried about it, honestly.
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