Fourth of July: Thank An American Soldier!

“Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.” — Abraham Lincoln, letter to H.L. Pierce, Apr. 6, 1859.

Independence Day in the United States of America is July 4th.  This is a National Holiday.  What will you, your family, or your neighbors be doing to celebrate?

Will you throw a big neighborhood party, have music playing piercingly loud, serve beer and mixed drink beverages, get that grill going with some barbequed ribs, steak, chicken, and fresh corn-on-the-cob?  Will everyone go inside to eat that delicious dinner and chuck down the food until they are so full they need to go and take a nap?  Will you be laughing, telling jokes, drinking too much, jumping in the nice swimming pool, running back inside the house to cool off, then repeating all of the above?  The neighborhood I used to live in, three houses up from me, this would surely be the scenario.  They hosted parties monthly.  Hum…for some strange reason, I was never invited to this party (just described) that the neighbor threw for any and every reason.  These neighbors were friendly (the two times in four years) when I passed them on the street; however, I was not included in their little clique.  Were my feelings hurt?  Not one little bit—not even for a moment.  I suppose I am a snob, because they just seemed so ostentatious to me.  I hate that.

Why am I telling you this?  I really do have a good reason.  As I walk outside now in my new neighborhood, the street and homes are lined with American flags.  I only see two houses that do not have flags proudly displayed.  This is an active adult community.  Sure, people are hosting parties and having a good time.  The atmosphere is 100% different here in this neighborhood.  Many Veterans live here.

Independence Day came with a price.  Freedom is not free. Who should you and I thank for our freedom?  We can give thanks to our Soldiers. Here are five very easy ways to give thanks to our American heroes:

(1).  When you see a soldier in uniform at the mall, in the grocery store, or at an airport, walk over to him or her and just tell them, “Thank you.” Does this make you uncomfortable?  If it does, please let me say that the more you do it, the easier it will become.  This will become so natural to you, that you will begin searching for those in uniform so you can say, “Thank you for all you do for me and my family.  Thank you for your service to our Country.”

(2).  Welcome home the troops at the airport. Several universities, local organizations, and churches get together and have their own team members who regularly go and welcome back the troops.  Think this does not matter to a soldier returning from war, even if it is only for R&R?  You are wrong.

(3).  Give what you can to the USO. Soldiers on leave or those who are being deployed search for the USO at the airports as they travel.  Our USO's are the lifeline for soldiers and their families. You could show thanks by sending care packages to the troops also.

(4).  If you are flying on commercial aircraft and are fortunate enough to be in first class, give up your seat to a soldier in uniform. This is such an easy way of giving thanks. Heaven knows, they deserve it.  Are you aware that certain commercial airlines charge our military personnel “excess baggage fees” when they come home on leave or when their spouse moves to be with them at their new base location?

(5).  Write letters thanking a soldier. If you do not know anyone who is serving in the armed forces, ask members of your church, place of business where you work, or any club you belong to and initiate the letter writing.  This is very easy to do.  One example I can provide is this.  As a College Professor of Psychology, I had each student of mine write a letter to an American Soldier. Their task was to simply say “Thank you” and to tell the soldier why they were thankful.  I did this with multiple classes for numerous semesters.  I read each and every letter.  One semester, I mailed the letters to my son-in-law who was serving in Iraq and asked him to keep one letter for himself and to give the other letters to other soldiers in his unit.  Another semester, I took the letters up to the USO at DFW Airport on Christmas Day as over 400 soldiers were deploying to Afghanistan.  The USO was expecting me and I must say, I felt terrible that I did not have enough letters for all of the soldiers.  I am positive the ones who did receive the letters were grateful.  A certain young soldier named Benjamin was thankful.

Soldiers are sons, daughters, spouses, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, and lovers.  Some are even grandparents.  Their dedication and bravery is commendable.  Think about the ones who have lost their soldiers or friends in battle as you celebrate your day of freedom this year.

July Fourth is a special day to me because of our men and women in uniform.  I am so proud to have family members that have been or are still serving in the military, as well as former students of mine who have done the same.  This article is dedicated to those who bravely gave their lives so that we can live in freedom. “Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.”

Honoring: Dwain Hall, Scott Woodard, Nathan Roberts, David Hall, Michael Moore, Derek, Charleston, Casey, James, Maurice, Benjamin, Paul, Sean, Chris, and Poe.  Vietnam Veterans—Huck, Jerry, Gary, Justice, and 58,000+.  Bataan Death March Survivor (from 1942), Menandro Bocobo.

Thanking: All Veterans and Military Personnel serving today, or who have served in the past for our United States of America.

Dedication:  To our Wounded Warriors, as well as those who bravely gave their lives, so that we may have our freedom on this Independence Day.

Will reading this blog/article make you stop to thank a soldier in uniform or at least help to raise awareness of what our soldiers do for us every single day?  What can you do to make a difference?

Read three blogs on soldiers, PTSD, and their families right here on my website – posted before 15 July.

©Copyright — Gayle Joplin Hall, PhD.  All rights reserved worldwide.  None of this material may be downloaded or reproduced without written permission from the author.

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  1. Dr. Gayle J. Hall says:

    I am very proud to say that the Army Soldier second to the right, is my son-in-law, Scott Woodard. This photo was taken in Balad, Iraq, in 2009, during Scott’s second tour of duty in Iraq.

    What can you do personally to thank a soldier? Why should we give thanks to our American Soldiers? How can we help our American Soldiers feel welcomed on special occasions?

    How can we show our appreciation for Soldiers on any day of the year?

    Please leave your comments for all to read and share with others.

    Shining my love your way, Dr. Gayle J. Hall.

  2. Gayle,

    That is a great article and all I can say is thanks for the support that you give to me and my fellow soldiers.

    The 4th of July is a day to celebrate for most but not for me. It seems that the military does not like me to be with my loved ones on this date. I have spent 2 out of the last eight 4th of July with my family. We know we won’t be together next year either, with my 4th deployment approaching very quickly.

    Again, thank you for all the support and love. Miss you.


    • Dr. Gayle J. Hall says:

      Dear Scott: Thank you for your comment, first of all, and for your service.

      I am sorry you are not with all of your family today. At least you are with Scotty. It sickens me that you cannot spend time with your wife when you are NOT deployed yet. That is just not right.

      One thing you can count on from me once you are deployed again is more letters, just to have some notes from home. You can also count on a constant flow of steady prayer for safety for you and your buddies as you do what it is you do day in and day out. Those two things are in the bank from me.

      Blessings to you today. Hope you took that “mini” vacation with Scotty I suggested during your time off. Make some memories.

      I love you, Scott, as always.

      Your mother-in-law, Gayle

  3. FATHER - DWAIN HALL says:

    Too bad more people don’t appreciate the Veterans.

    Your article came straight from the heart and was very well written.

    Some may not know the following. Most Veterans who have done the most and have taken the most risks, do not talk about it, do not brag about it or expect others to understand what they have witnessed or accomplished in their tour of duty. In most cases, you wouldn’t even know they have served.

    Dwain J. Hall (Korean War Veteran)

  4. Dr. Gayle J. Hall says:

    To my Father, Dwain Hall: Yes, you are correct when you stated, “Most Veterans who have done the most and have taken the most risks, do not talk about it, do not brag about it, or expect others to understand what they have witnessed or accomplished in their tour of duty.”

    As an example, perhaps the oldest living Veteran I know (who is 93 years young and a Bataan Death March Survivor), NEVER told the horrendous details of what he endured until decades after leaving the military – and he made a career out of the military. His own wife did not know the suffering he went through.

    There are multiple reasons why those Veterans do NOT tell or want others to know. Most of the time, it is pride, in knowing you made personal sacrifices for our Country and did the “right” thing when called upon to do so. However, there are other reasons also.

    Psychologically, it is much easier to repress thoughts and “shove them” to the back of the mind, than to deal with something troublesome. Especially with the WWII Veterans and Vietnam Veterans, they did not receive the aftercare they needed upon returning home. This is paramount in bringing a warrior back to the “whole” person and back to the “normal” state of not being in a war zone. Us, as civilians, do not understand that.

    Although I have not, nor will I ever, fight in a war, I do understand this. Post traumatic stress disorder can plague a soldier throughout his or her lifetime if they do not receive the care they need. This is just one example (of many) that I could provide as to why a Veteran may not discuss what he has endured in war. This is why it is critical for our soldiers to receive aftercare and support from the VA if they need it, seek out counseling, coaching, or join a support group where they can feel comfortable talking, if they want or need to.

    Thank you, Dad, for serving our Country when I was just a baby, and for being a Veteran. I love you always.

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