He is a big boy. Frankly, pushing 30. If he ever sees this, he will complain. But too bad.
He is my baby brother. My other brother. We are 17 month apart. We grew up together. Had the same friends and played the same games. I remember screaming and fighting over baseball games as kids, but I also remember the day he stood up for me on the school bus. I always wanted the nightlight on in our bedroom but he said he couldn't sleep with it on. He waited until I fell asleep and then would turn off my light. I remember seeing him all dressed up for a Prom in a tux, and I remember the first time I saw him in uniform.
He is serving in the Air Force. Serving the United States of America. And as of last Tuesday, he is a deployed Airman. That means my baby brother is not in our country. He is so far away. Too far. He would never, ever call himself a hero and would flip out if it was even stated. But again...too bad. He is a hero to me.
He took a vow to defend us. To stand up and fight for those who won't or can't. For the kids who pledge allegiance to the flag every morning and for those who scream and curse at military funerals. For those men and woman who have greying hair now, but served so faithfully years ago and for rappers and songwriters who spew out garbage about a life they know nothing about. He defends the politicians who debate on the compensation he receives for serving and he serves those of us who wake up knowing that we can go where we want and say what we want without threat or violence. Our military who serves heroically, honorably, and faithfully. Without prejudice or pride.
To be honest, we are only as strong as those who are willing to fight for Justice. I have always stood on the side of respect and honor for the men and woman willing to serve. But it wasn't personal. Now my brother is overseas. I don't know where he is laying his head or what he eats for dinner. I don't know what he spends his days doing. I don't know if someone means him harm. Although he swears that he is fine.
Now I see. I see that he won't be home for the holidays. My mom can't pick up the phone and call him. We can't send him goofy pics of the kids. He won't send me a sarcastic text to this post. I am in no way complaining however. Some families have made an even more tragic sacrifice. Some people never got to plan the welcome home party I have stashed away in my head.
Freedom has never been free. Men and women have been standing on that line for you and for me since the beginning. As September 11th approaches, I look at all the heroes serving us that never hear a thank-you. And frankly, they don't even expect it. But today I say thank-you. To all of you serving in the military- My brother, my cousins, my friends. To those serving as policemen, firemen, and protectors of my freedom. I thank-you. I thank-you for everything.