“Its not like I want to go, but its my obligation. Anyone who really wants to go into a war zone is just nuts,” Tim said loudly over the music. We were crowded into a booth at a local club, it was a Saturday night, but our conversation wasn’t exactly festive.
“I’d be lying if I said I’m looking forward to it, but the military helped me get through college, and now its time I re-pay the favor. This is just how it works,” he said, any tension in his voice masked by the crowd around us. I didn’t know what to say and, really, there was nothing that COULD be said. One of my best friends was headed for a country where artillery fire and roadside bombings were a way of life. No words could ease the fear that must set in when one knows they’re going “over there.”
Tim Hubbard and I have been friends since high school, but living in the same dorm for three years of college is where we became as close as brothers. When Tim called the day before, I knew what news was coming: the Army was sending him to Iraq. After six years of being a reservist, Tim’s brigade had been mobilized for service in Operation: Iraqi Freedom. With a pang of nervousness, I thought back through all the time we’d spent together over the years; college parties, road trips, spring break in Vegas, more fun experiences than I could even remember. Now, my buddy was headed to one of the most unstable places on earth. I was nervous for him, but that couldn’t compare to what Tim had to be feeling.
Shipping out in less than a week, I invited Tim to town for a night of fun. I knew it’d be the last time we’d see each other for at least a year and I wanted to give him a good send-off. He accepted and we soon found ourselves crowded into a booth with three other friends, all of which are local police officers.
As the five of us hung out and chatted, I began to feel very, very small. Here with me were representatives of the two groups of people who are my heroes: soldiers and cops.
Sitting amongst a group of people who readily put their personal safety aside for the good of others, I began to feel my professional contribution to the world is pretty pale. After all, there has never been a time in my speaking career where I’ve needed to carry a gun, wear a bulletproof vest or worry that my life is in danger. Yet, for these four guys, that’s an everyday thing. As a civilian, I thank my lucky stars that there are individuals who take on the most respectable duty on earth; providing the defense, a virtual security wall, around us to keep us from harm.
We throw around the word “service” a lot, but putting one’s life on the line to help others is the truest definition of the word. These four friends aren’t just talking it, they are living it. Being around these guys who sacrifice safety and security to help others is a humbling experience I won’t soon forget. Plus, being around those who give so much made me really want to give more. But, what can I, as a normal person, do? For the majority of Americans, going through the police academy and/or boot camp isn’t a reality. (Note: If the military or police forces ever relax restrictions on overweight blind guys, please don’t expect to receive The Marcus Engel Newsletter for a while!)
So, since most of us aren’t going to be cops or soldiers, what CAN we do? Simple: Show appreciation for those who are.
During the last State of the Union Address, the President spoke to this very question. Inspired by a letter from a little girl asking, “What can I do to help?” The President’s advice was simple: When you see a man or a woman in uniform, thank them. When I heard that, it made me realize how lax we are about showing our gratefulness to those who are always there to help out. Not just soldiers and police officers, but fire fighters, paramedics, nurses, doctors, anyone who is there to help in time of emergency.
We live in a country where, if a tragedy occurs, help is soon on its way. Those who provide emergency assistance often work long hours in a thankless job just to help, because someone has to do it. Having been the recipient of these services a few different times over the years, and since all of us are now receiving the benefits of those who have volunteered to guard our safety, I send this out as my message of thanks.
So, to veterans, to my law enforcement friends, to active military, to you if you provide any of these emergency services, thank you.
If you’re also humbled by the sacrifices made by those who devote their lives to helping others, please pass this note of thanks along to those we can count on when the chips are down. Saying “Thank you” is one of the smallest, but most personal, things we can do, yet we don’t say it nearly enough. If nothing else, I hope this newsletter reminds you of those who are doing their best to preserve our lives, our way of life and our freedoms. Oh, and to Hubbard-Take care, man, watch your six o’clock and God speed.
(Note: With the current fervor of political views, I debated even writing this. Mentioning anything political is a sure-fire way to ruffle some feathers. Still, I write about what I observe, things that hit me in the heart. This is what has been on my mind this month. Please know this is not meant to push an agenda or sway political opinions, but is strictly intended to increase awareness of the sacrifices made by those who so faithfully serve.)
Marcus Engel is a professional speaker/author who inspires audiences to achieve success by making intelligent choices. Blinded by a drunk driver at age 18, Marcus battled through two years of recovery and 300 hours of reconstructive facial surgery to reach his goal of returning to college. After graduating from Missouri State University in 2000, Marcus began sharing his story professionally to audiences nationwide. In 2002, Marcus founded his own publishing company with the release of his autobiography, “After This…An Inspirational Journey For All the Wrong Reasons.” His messages of empowerment and motivation have been witnessed by hundreds of thousands through his keynotes, his autobiography and his monthly newsletters. Marcus Engel is a speaker, a message, a story you will never forget! Visit http://www.MarcusEngel.com for more information!