Be thankful this holiday season

Published 5:56 pm Friday, December 16, 2011

Dear Editor,

I am sure in all walks of life, religion, and cultures, there is a day of thanks. In our culture, it was a time when differences were placed aside, mistrust was forgotten and caring took a first-class seat in the hearts and minds of people in our nation’s infancy. And when you hear the words “hearts and minds of a people” or the word “freedom,” have you really made the connection? Do you and your children really understand what all of this means?

How many times have you stopped and thought of how fortunate you truly are? In our very busy lives, our careers, our homes, our cars, our malls and shopping centers, our theaters, our clubs, our vacations, this list goes on; how often have we taken these things for granted? How many times have you flipped the light switch without worry of the lack of power, disagreed with the government or politicians, only to wake up this morning without fear of retribution to do it again. Or go to sleep with full expectation to wake up free from harm because of the untold sacrifices of our service men and women coupled with your local public servants.

Today, there is talk or worries about the lack of police, firemen, hospitals, teachers, or the need for paved roads and better bridges. In our children’s eyes, the issues are the Internet, more TV channels and cell phones. These are shallow points in comparison to issues reflective of our society today.

Regardless, these United States are a blessing to us all. My 29 years of service to my country as a soldier is indicative of the pride and fortitude forged over time as I experienced the best and the worst our country and this world had to offer.

In memory of a loved one I lost by the name of Daija Lee, I am requesting enlistment of you to take the time to talk at the table this year and hereafter. Please make it a point to discuss how far this country has come and debate what you see on all of the news channels and not just one. Tell your children and your grandchildren they have an inherent responsibility to this country and its founding fathers and mothers. Explain to them how it was for you with your trials and tribulations and how you overcame them. Tell them what it truly means to be an American and that it is not just black or white.

Explain to them that this country was an experiment or a thought which came to fruition from the blood, sweat, sacrifice, beliefs, tears and compromises from a multitude of cultures. Take them outside and point to the stars, remind the children about the day an American walked on the moon and explain we were there first. Please, sit them down and explain America is America because people believe and aspire to be better because we are better; but stress to never take these generational blessings and opportunities for granted for only in America are these tenets possible.

I beg of you to truly reflect with the young people (our future) and plant the seed that will spawn new growth and solidify what so many have fought to persevere. It must start in the home, and it must start now! In the name of my niece, Daija Lee, those who feel alone and not heard, as well as those who have served honorably and continue to serve, we wish you to always be mindful of how fortunate we all are to live in these United States of America, freedom’s birthplace!

Jefferson Varner III, Command Sergeant Major, U.S. Army (Retired)