‘The Debt I Owe’
By Christine June
My father – a Vietnam Veteran – taught me well.
“You owe a debt of gratitude to millions of Americans who gave the ultimate sacrifice for all the freedoms you have in this life.”
I looked up at my father’s emotion-filled face and nodded, trying as hard as any six-year-old to understand what he was telling me.
Now – many years older than my father was at the time he first told me about the significance of Memorial Day – I am humbled by the bravery, sacrifices and selfless-service of my fellow Americans from past and present generations.
I served in the military for 20 years, but unlike my father’s and today’s generations, I did not go off to war. There were conflicts during my service, which I did support in my trained capacity, but I never looked into a gun’s barrel, heard the blasting of mortars or saw my comrades lose limbs and life on a battlefield.
But, many Americans today – generations after mine – have, and like my father, I am filled with such emotion…such gratitude for the debt I owe these young Americans. The enormity of this debt really hits me when I think of the grieving families – mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, sisters, brothers, daughters and sons.
I did not personally know these brave Americans and unfortunately, never will, but they selflessly afforded me the freedoms I continue to enjoy as I raise my daughter.
“You owe a debt – my sweet girl – one you can never really repay, but one you must always remember to honor as you live this life.”
I try to teach her well.