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May is National Military Appreciation Month

The next time you see a soldier, sailor, airman, marine, coast guard or national guard, thank them. They've earned it.

In April 2004, legislation was passed with unanimous consent in both houses of Congress designating that May as National Military Appreciation Month. It is so rare to have both Houses and both sides of the aisle unanimously agree on anything, that I’ve often wondered how it even happened.

There are other holidays and days of recognition throughout the year, but May seemed logical as there are so many military-oriented days celebrated during the month. This year, Loyalty Day was on May 1, Military Spouse Appreciation Day on May 11, Victory in Europe Day on May 8, Armed Forces Day on May 19 and, of course, Memorial Day is on May 28.

Then again, who is going to argue against honoring, remembering and appreciating our Armed Forces personnel? This is one of the few issues that can and does unite all Americans, whatever your political affiliation or beliefs.

I sometimes wonder if we forget who we are, and how lucky we are to be living in this country at this time in history. Yes, we have problems, but we also have the best chance of any people at any time in human history of fixing those problems because of the country in which we live.

It is because of the willingness of some amongst us to put the ideals of this country above their own personal safety and security that we have the right to choose how we believe, speak our minds, gather and all of those things we mostly take for granted. Because, for us it is granted, under that remarkable document called the Constitution of the United States of America. 

With that in mind, I’d like to offer two of the most moving and inspirational pieces about our military I’ve ever come across.

This first piece has long been attributed to the Rev. Denis Edward O’Brien, U.S. Marine Corps, but the true author is Charles M. Province. The story is O’Brien, who served in Vietnam, sent it to “Dear Abby” and it was mistakenly credited as his work. Province served in the Korea and wrote it in 1970 in response to Vietnam War protestors.

It Is The Soldier by Charles M. Province

It is the Soldier, not the minister
Who has given us freedom of religion.

It is the Soldier, not the reporter
Who has given us freedom of the press.

It is the Soldier, not the poet
Who has given us freedom of speech.

It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer
Who has given us freedom to protest.

It is the Soldier, not the lawyer
Who has given us the right to a fair trial.

It is the Soldier, not the politician
Who has given us the right to vote.

It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
Who serves beneath the flag,
And whose coffin is draped by the flag,
Who allows the protester to burn the flag.

I would like to give proper credit for this second piece, but I have never been able to determine the original author. If you can tell me, please let me know.

"The American flag does not fly because the wind moves past it…the American flag flies from the last breath of each military member who has died protecting it."

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