Over the weekend, while driving down one of the busiest and largest streets in Clarksville, TN, I counted over half a dozen different military license plates. I’d driven less than a mile. There was the Disabled Veteran plate; the Bronze Star-Meritorius; the Flying Cross; Gold Star Family plate; Combat Wounded/Purple Heart; Vietnam Veteran plate; and the Air Medal license plate.
It hit me hard.
I live amongst heroes. I’m actually surrounded by them…and I’m very proud of this fact. Clarksville, TN is a city in middle Tennessee which has been noted as having the second largest population of Veterans in the entire United States. One can easily state that when you come to Clarksville, you will surely brush shoulders with an American Hero…they are literally everywhere.
When I took notice of each license plate, my mind wondered…how many deployments had taken them away from their loved ones? Are they receiving all the benefits they are entitled to? Do they sleep ok at night? Did that little girl know her Daddy before he gave his life for our freedoms? Does that Vietnam Veteran see any difference in the way our current Soldiers are being welcomed home? Does anyone else recognize all the stories behind these license plates? Is anyone listening? Has anyone asked? Has anyone slowed down, even paused, and extended gratitude? Or been deliberate in their eye contact and shared a smile?
I am guilty as charged. I rush around town, in and out of the grocery store, the post office, the dry cleaners…often avoiding eye contact so that I can complete the marathon of chores on my To Do list without interruption. But, wait…these lives, the lives of our Service Members and their loved ones, were interrupted…they had to hit the pause button on life to ensure that I could zip around from spot to spot without giving any thought to my safety.
There are so many stories behind the license plates in my town…there are people who want to listen to your story…there are people who want to thank you…there are people who want to welcome you back…we are here and will be waiting, whenever you are ready, we are here. Thank you, American Heroes – thank you.
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