Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Of Blue and Gold Stars

Happy Independence Day! I think sometimes we forget what this day is truly about. It isn't about the fireworks, parades or backyard barbeques. It is about men and women who had the desire and courage to stand up to tyranny and fight for freedom. Whether they did it with a sword, a saber, a musket, a rifle or a quilled pen. They mustered the courage and put their hopes and dream into action.

Today, men and women still fight for that freedom, and their sacrifices should be recognized, and not just a couple of days a year. The Blue Star Flag pictured above is for those families who have a loved one currently in harm's way. These families fight their own battles on a day in and day out basis. The absence of the loved one at the dinner table. The bone deep fear if an unexpected knock comes on the door. If "the knock" comes at the door, then that blue star is replaced with a gold one. The gold star would mean the family's soldier had make the ultimate sacrifice.

Back in 2007, we were a Blue Star Family. My brother was deployed for 13 months. It was a very stressful time. I proudly flew the Blue Star Flag at my home and had a window decal for my car. Every time I heard a news story about fallen troops without names released, I held my breath and prayed that the knock wasn't going to come on my Mom's door. Then once we heard from my brother, I could breathe again. It was a stressful 13 months.

It was interesting how others, strangers really, tried to make that time easier. People would ask about the flag, and of course I'd always brag on my brother! Bag boys taking my groceries out to the car would comment on the Blue Star and tell me to thank my brother and thank my family. Sometimes valets at restaurants would refuse tips (and you KNOW they work on tips) and say that no, my family is doing enough right now.

One day I was going through the drive thru at Milo's Hamburgers (if you haven't had a Milo burger you're missing out, but I think its pretty much an Alabama thing!), anyway, I'd placed my order and was waiting for my turn to get my food and pay. I pulled up to the window with my debit card in hand and the cashier handed me my food. I tried to hand her the card, but she refused it, saying the person in front of me had paid for my order. When I looked puzzled, she said they had said for me to enjoy my burger and thank you for your family's sacrifice. That little thing, paying for a cheeseburger, no onions combo meal, made my entire day. And almost 5 years later, I haven't forgotten it.

So, if you see someone with a Blue Star Flag on their car or their home, thank them for their sacrifices and let them know that you will be hoping or praying for their soldier's safe return. The stress they live under daily is unimaginable. And if you see someone with a Gold Star, know that their soldiermade the ultimate sacrifice. Sometimes just knowing other people are supporting you can make all the difference.

Happy Independence Day everyone! And one last thought --- more pets go missing on 4th of July than any other day --- they get scared of fireworks and run off to try and escape them! Bring your babies inside if you can!!!! Y'all stay safe!

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