No matter what one's political affiliation may be or what your personal stance is on the wars our country finds itself in, my wish is that all Americans, regardless of race, gender, religion can remember every single day that our freedom is not free. It comes with a price that not all of us must pay.

There are certain people that rise up and say, "I will pay this price for you. I will put my life on the line for you and for what is right." They do it so that we don't have to. They do it, not out of force or obligation but, by choice. They choose to fight for our country. They choose to fight for our liberties. They choose to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. Our military men and women deserve our thanks, folks. That's just the way it is. Whether you hate our current government, love what's going on or are slightly indifferent, you need to thank a soldier for protecting your freedoms.

When I think about the men and women in our armed forces, doing what I would never and could never have the guts to do, I'm always moved. Remember, they are not the only ones who sacrifice for our country. Their lives are sometimes lost in the fight but, let's not forget those at home who they leave behind. The families of our military should also be in our hearts and deserve our gratitude. Their sacrifices, children without fathers, brothers without sisters, mothers without sons, are the ultimate sacrifices.

Years ago when I visited the island of Oahu I had the unbelievable opportunity to be there on Memorial Day. I was able to visit "Punchbowl Cemetery". Here's a little info on it...

It was built in 1948 in the crater of a volcano. This gives it the appearance of a "punchbowl". On September 2nd, 1949 the dedication ceremony took place for the Memorial site. Some of the first people to be buried there were 776 casualties from the attacks on Pearl Harbor that happened on the other side of the island. It also honors people from World War 2, Korea, and Vietnam and their family members. It is now filled to capacity with 33,230 gravesites.At the site they also have a building that is dedicated to honoring men and women from all the different branches of the military and the different wars. They have a small chapel to pay your respects in, maps of the war areas, history on each military branch, and a wall honoring people missing in action. It is said to have 22,778 people's names on it.

The day I was there they had placed an American flag on every grave. It was breathtaking. I will never forget the notes in the visitor book. Nor will I ever forget the lone veteran weeping in the chapel. I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to visit this national memorial and witness it's awe and beauty.

In the center of the chapel area is a huge fountain with the inscription
"The Solemn Pride That Must Be Yours To Have Laid So Costly a Sacrifice Upon the Altar of Freedom."

Thank a soldier today and every day. Thank a Veteran. Thank a soldier's mother, husband, child, grandparent. It is only because of them that we can celebrate these holidays with grilled hot dogs and cold beer on the beach. It is only because of their Ultimate Sacrifices that we are Free to do so.

On a personal note, I'd like to give my sincere thanks and love to....
The father of my two young siblings, Jerome, for his sacrifices.
0007's best friend, Brady, for his sacrifices.
My friend Pam at TroopPetrie for the sacrifices of her husband and family.
My friend Amanda N. at Life After Placing for the sacrifices of her and her husband.

My hero...the proud Babo.

And all the other men and women who have served and who still serve our great country every single day.

Thank you all.