“Freedom is actually a bigger game than power. Power is about what you can control. Freedom is about what you can unleash.”
Today marks both the 16th year since the September 11, 2001 attacks, which killed 2,977 victims, and the 24th year since the World Trade Center bombing of 1993, which killed six. The anniversary of these horrific attacks slows me down and gets me thinking about and honoring all the men and women who are called to serve. This anniversary reminds me of the tremendous danger of service – both in war overseas and in the streets here at home—and it motivates me to give back, caring for those who have been injured through their service. And, perhaps most importantly of all, it inspires me to celebrate the freedom their service provides. I do that by using my life well.
The Call to Serve
Thinking about the soldiers who fight our wars, I am reminded of Nick Black. Today I honor Nick, and all the men and women of the U.S. Armed Services who, like him, responded to the call to serve. During a Something Significant interview to celebrate Memorial Day, Nick shared his experience of hearing the call:
I went to middle and high school in Northern Virginia and was a senior on 9/11/2001. I always wanted to go into the military but the events on 9/11 sealed the deal. I wanted to serve my country and go toe-to-toe with the people who caused American civilians to jump out of the 100th floor of a burning building.
Nick saw five years of active duty service as an Officer in the United States Army. His first combat duty was a 15-month deployment on the Pakistani border. Then, after re-deploying to Italy for a year, his unit was deployed back to Afghanistan for a second tour, which lasted another 12 months.
Upon leaving the military, which Nick decided to do because he felt he could do more for his country outside the Army than within it, Nick heard a different calling: he co-founded Stop Soldier Suicide with two fellow Officers.
The Danger of Service
Thinking about the police who patrol our streets, I am reminded of Shawn Rogers. Today I honor Shawn, and all the first responders across our nation who, like him, protect us here at home. Two years ago, I interviewed Shawn, a friend and college football teammate, for our Something Significant series. For the final question of the interview, I always ask if there any books or resources the interviewee would like to recommend to our Happy Living community. Shawn’s answer shocked me, as he chose a text that vividly describes how dangerous being a first responder has become. He recommended The Bulletproof Mind, a military guide by Lieutenant colonel Dave Grossman. Shawn said:
It describes the mindset a soldier needs in battle to survive: never give up, and accomplish the mission. When I began my career, we didn’t need such a war-like mindset in law enforcement. Tragically, with the rise of terrorism on the streets of our country, this “battle-ready” mindset is a requirement for every law enforcement officer in the land.
Serving Those Who Serve
Thinking about giving back and caring for those who become injured while engaged in serving others, I am reminded of the U.S. Vets. Today I honor the men and women who serve the United States Veterans Initiative, the nation’s largest non-profit organization providing services to homeless and at-risk veterans. They work in 11 cities across five states, plus Washington, D.C. and the territory of Guam, serving those who serve. Since 1993, more than 50,000 veterans have benefited from U.S. VETS residential services, and 11,000 have found jobs.
You can help U.S. VETS in their mission to ‘serve those who serve’ in two ways.
- Give what you can when you can by donating directly.
- Share this post with your family and friends. Ask everyone you know to give and share too – because every donation makes a difference, large and small.
Honoring Their Service
Thinking about the freedom their service provides me, I am reminded that Freedom is A Big Thing. Today I honor all the men and women who give (and have given) so that I may live, in freedom.
I honor them with gratitude for the freedom in my life. I have been free to learn, to dream and to pursue those dreams; free to succeed and to fail; free to love whomever I choose and to raise a family, or not; free to own a home and a business; free to think my own thoughts; free to write my own books and develop my own unique philosophies of life. I have been free to pursue the purpose of my own life…as I determine it, and that is no small thing.
I honor those who serve by using my life well and fully, because I know, a big price has been paid for the freedom I enjoy.
On this solemn day, with a full and grateful heart, I honor all the men and women (past, present, and future) who protect freedom, because freedom is a great big thing!
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