There are revered walls in our courthouse; walls that hold countless stories; walls where the faces of the valiant and strong permanently reside. They are our protectors. They are our hometown heroes. . .
Some battled on a hostile, faraway desert. Some lost their brothers in brutal, remote jungles. Some lost their friends on the icy plains. Some fought on a fiery shore.
Some soared with eagles and the angels. Some were gunned down in skirmishes. Some were savagely wounded. Some have abandoned their hope.
Some saw hell on earth. Some mended maimed and withered bodies. Some were misunderstood. Some are haunted by endless nightmares.
Some sorted official orders. Some kept secret records. Some drug their dying comrades across a violent, exploding field. Some worked on mighty machines.
Some stood beside a lonesome grave. Some raised old glory high in triumph. Some slumped in pain and defeat. Some were utterly broken.
Some sent homesick, tear-stained letters. Some made promises as they held a dying, quivering hand. Some nervously trod upon booby trapped ground. Some sent unnumbered rounds down an angry street.
Some sang in the jubilant choir. Some played on the grassy gridiron. Some cooked hasty meals. Some whispered a hymn at midnight.
Some delivered terrible, gut-wrenching tidings. Some prayed to God in fox holes. Some were captured. Some kept up the morale.
Some killed within marble walls. Some killed on a golden meadow. Some killed, knowing that innocence was erased. Some killed, knowing that innocence was regained.
Some were left adrift upon a vast, chaotic sea. Some were left behind- a long time lost. Some feel great guilt. Some feel so unworthy.
Some moved beneath the ocean’s surface, in elusive, iron-clad chambers. Some were decorated and others were honored. Some came back. Some cannot find their way back.
Some were injured in ways that we will never understand. Some were laughed at. Some were scoffed at. Some were betrayed.
Some cried when we said thank you.
None will ever be the same.
I thank our fearless guardians for their unwavering dedication- whether mothers or fathers or sisters or brothers; whether neighbors or strangers or doctors or lawyers; whether Saxon or Native or Nubian or Asian. Words can never tell what my heart feels. My mind will never comprehend what happened out there in this crazy, unsettled world. Your sacrifice was too much to ask.
So whenever the drum corps beats a sad and somber rhythm; whenever “Taps” plays in the wintry wind; whenever gloved hands offer a flag to a weeping widow; whenever you visit the resting place of one that is fallen; whenever you feel sad and lonely – remember that I thank you.
And with every sleepless night that you have to endure; with every psychiatric appointment; with every painful surgery; with every therapy session; with every substance abuse meeting; with every inescapable, tragic memory; with every broken dream – remember that I thank you.
And each time I hear “God Bless America”; each time I see a lone soldier standing guard; each time I hear a baby cry or see a stranger smile; each time I walk to the store without a second thought; each time I freely speak my mind or cast my vote; each time I shoot at cans down by the old sand pit; each time I relax on a lazy afternoon; each time I celebrate another birthday- remember that I thank you.
And if you smile at the passing clouds; if you feel the gentle breeze on your face; if you listen to the sweet, falling rain; if you gaze at the waxing moon; if you look to the setting sun- remember that I thank you.
And when you revel in the brave new morning, remember that I thank you.
Yes, each and every time I stare at the faces on those revered walls and remember, I will thank you- from the very deepest part of my humble, undeserving heart.
Thank you for your unimaginable service, and thoughtfulness for the safety of us all. Thank you for your unbelievable selflessness. Thank you for your unmatched courage. Thank you for your devoted protection. Thank you for your loyalty, and thank you for your love. Thank you, all you magnificent and treasured home town heroes.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. . .