In honor of those who serve and protect…

Today is Veterans’ Day. While I spent the vast majority of my day off work sitting on my butt, watching television and getting things organized for my upcoming trip(s), the meaning of the day wasn’t lost on me.

I don’t know that a day like Veterans’ Day has ever meant as much to me as it does this year. Now that I’ve been living in Annapolis for almost a year, I’ve truly come to respect and admire the men and women who sign on to serve and protect our country. It’s not that I didn’t before – I did. But walking around Annapolis and seeing these young men and women (most of whom are younger than me) walking around in uniform on a regular basis really makes anyone a little bit more patriotic,  I think.

I can vividly remember a night over the summer when we were at Pusser’s out on the deck enjoying a couple drinks and the Navy Police boat came cruising through Ego Alley. I got chills as people turned toward the water and cheered, waved, clapped and raised their drinks in honor of them.

Events like these happen all the time in Annapolis – people go out of their ways to open doors for midshipmen, they go up to them and shake their hands and say “thank you” out of nowhere, they smile at them even if they avoid eye contact with everyone else.

I also had a pretty spectacular experience on the way to Montana last month that I will never forget. We were in line at BWI for security and there were soldiers all over. The TSA lady was going through her spiel and kept mentioning exceptions for uniformed military personnel. She caught the eye of one of the soldiers standing to my right and said to him, “Are your boots steel-toe?” “No, ma’am.” “OK, then don’t worry about taking them off when you go through. Welcome home, and thank you.”

I teared up immediately. I didn’t make the connection that all these men and women were celebrating their homecomings until that moment. After that, I watched as they stood in line at Burger King excited to get a Whopper, as they tore off their fatigues to reveal their Cowboys or Colts t-shirts underneath, as they smiled and joked and went to their first class seats on our flight and had people walking by thank them for what they do.

So, to those men and women who have protected, are protecting or will protect (I’m looking at you, USNA mids…) my safety and my freedom, thank you.

And for anyone who’s looking for a way to give back, I suggest you sponsor my friend and co-worker on her Ride2Recovery next Sept. 11. In honor of the tenth anniversary, she’s riding her bike from Ground Zero to the site of the Flight 93 crash to the Pentagon with 350 others, including first responders, injured vets and other citizens and has been asked to raise $2998, one dollar for every victim of the Sept. 11 attacks. Even better, 90 cents of every dollar donated will go to sponsor an injured vet doing the ride as part of their Ride2Recovery program. If you’d like to donate, go to http://ride2recovery.com/sponsor-a-rider.html and type in “Karey Harris.” And “like” her Facebook page (and see the flier I made for her ;)). Pass the info on to anyone you know who might want to donate and let us know if you have anywhere you/she could put fliers!
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