Veteran's Dinner in Idaho Springs

Scott and I were honored to be a part of the B.P.O.E 607 Elk's Lodge in Idaho Spring annual Veteran's Dinner and Awards Night. In addition to all Veteran's, policeman, firefighters, EMTs and local teachers were honored at the dinner. I presented awards with Rick Scott (Veteran's Service Officer) to all of the honored guests. I also shared a few words with the group and I think it only fitting that I share some of those here in honor of all Veteran's on this special day.

When I think of Veteran's Day, I can't help but think of my lifelong friend, Steph. Steph and I grew up in the same small town of Wallace, Nebraska. Steph was like another sister to Mandy (my younger sister) and I. A few years ago, when she returned from Afghanistan as part of the 101st Airborne Division, she was so thoughtful to take her only free time to drive to Lincoln, where other friends of mine were hosting a baby shower for me. I was on an emotional roller coaster at the time--I was just starting my 7th month of pregnancy. But my emotions ran even deeper for my friend Steph who informed us that she would only be in the States for another month before deploying again--this time to Korea. I remember breaking down and crying. "How can they do this to you? I just feel so sorry for you." Steph immediately put her arms around me and said the following in my ear....

"Never feel sorry for me. Never feel sorry for any of us fighting for this country. Feel sorry for the fact that a war is going on in this world. Feel sorry for those who are suffering overseas. But never, never feel sorry for me. I chose this path for my life. I'm proud to fight for freedom."

Steph has always been a strong, determined and dedicated woman. But it was at that very moment in time that I couldn't have been more proud of her. This same woman who used to spend hours with me and Mandy in our bathroom putting on makeup and teasing our hair was now flying Chinook helicopters and leading 900 soldiers in an effort to help others, to fight for all of us back home. No longer could I feel sorry for someone who was doing exactly what she loved and was meant to do.

Recently, Steph shared these words with me....

"I didn’t know as a young woman how much I would love being a Soldier. I didn’t know I would crave leading troops. I didn’t know how easy it would be to embrace the failures and defeats, as well as the successes, of a group of people, to take ownership for the direction the group is headed.....On this Veteran's Day I think of the men and women who have come before me. Those brave soldiers who have paved the way for me, who allowed me to grow up in a small town in Nebraska without the fear that my freedom was at stake. I deeply thank them for their sacrifice to this great country. I think of those who have given their life in this War so that I may be here to write this short story."

Thank you to all of the Veteran's, those currently serving in our military forces and all who have died fighting for this great country. Thank you for defending my freedom so that I too can write this story.