Opinions: From the desk: Because of the brave

A community in which I can walk about and not have to consider my safety. A school that has so many opportunities I have to pick and choose so I don’t overload myself. A family that loves me for who I am.

The people that attend the EHS’ annual Veterans Day celebration, Nov. 10, made me realize I take all of this for granted.

The day included volunteers greeting veteran guests, the presentation of the history of the American flag and the band playing the fight song for each branch of the military.

While bringing cake to Eureka police officers, I realized something else that I take for granted: my freedom.

I’ve been helping out with the Veterans Day Celebration for four years now. Other than rugby this is the only activity that I’ve participated in for my entire high school career.

Some of the men and women who have attended the event every year know me now. Mrs. Elizabeth Dames is one of those people.

Her husband, Mr. Ken Dames, served in the Air Force during the Korean War. Katie Dames, their granddaughter, is the Eurekana yearbook editor-in-chief.

After the celebration was over, Ryan Giesing, Phillip Sisco and I stayed after to talk to Mr. and Mrs. Dames. Three hours later they finally got in their car and left.

I felt rather dismal knowing that I may never talk to those people ever again. Our long talks every year have become tradition to me.

The lessons I’ve learned from them have become part of who I am. Talking with these veterans instilled in me the values of honor, faith and sacrifice.

Listening to Mrs. Dames say “God bless you” as she stood up to leave almost brought me to tears.

As much as I try, I’ll never be able to fully understand what this family, like so many others across the country, has given up in order to serve our country.

In my mind, America is an idea–the idea that the people should have the power and citizens should be free to make their own decisions. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness: that’s what a soldier fights for.

We live in a country that is incredibly divided. After the election, half the country was outraged that their candidate did not win. It’s been the least peaceful transition of power in my lifetime.

For one nation “indivisible,” we sure do seem pretty divisible right now.

As protests go on in the streets, I can’t help but feel bad for the countless veterans who have to watch civil unrest turn to violence right before their eyes.

A soldier doesn’t think about politics when they’re standing on the front lines. The men and women I’ve talked to every year since I was a freshman think differently than the average voter. As long as the United States are safe and free and the idea of America is preserved, they will be satisfied.

They’ll continue to fight regardless of who is president.

I take that for granted sometimes. My problems are nothing compared to those who have to kiss their spouse right before they send them off to war. While I worry about which college I’ll attend, these men and women worry about whether or not they’ll ever see their children again.

America is the land of the free because of the brave.

Last year I asked an older man how he would like young people to honor veterans. He replied with a simple answer: “Make the world a better place.”

I like to shake hands with members of the armed services to show my appreciation, but that gesture means nothing if I don’t live out my appreciation by utilizing the freedom I’ve been given to help people who need it the most.

From here on out I commit myself to living out that idea and remembering the lives of those who have fallen by spreading kindness and joy to everyone that I come across.

Because of the brave, I have that opportunity.

After the Veterans Day Celebration last year, Nov. 10, 2015, Mrs. Dames called the school and left a voicemail explaining exactly how much she appreciated the event. Never before was I more proud to be a wildcat than when I heard this message played for the first time.