The National Anthem is hard for me to hear without getting pretty emotional.  It started for me very early on, when my Grandfather had complications arise during an MRI.  Pieces of shrapnel were magnetically drawn to the surface of his body that had been long buried, the result of a German grenade in WW2.

And to this day when I hear our anthem, I think of him, as a young man running to avoid the gunfire and grenades of German troops, taking refuge in some cold shell of a building in Italy.  I think of the pain he had in his leg the entire time I knew him, and wonder if he ever felt his sacrifice was worth it?  Half a world away his wife and daughter are writing him letters we won't see until after the war.  That's what I see when I close my eyes during the Anthem.

When I open my eyes, I see the sacrifice and dedication of so many service men and women that it truly makes me proud to live here.  These people all made a choice, for whatever their reason, to put my wants and needs above their own.  It is the spirit of that service I try to repay whenever possible.

We all need to treat our Veterans better.  If the value of their sacrifice is marginalized, the strength of our country is equally so.  What dream and who's hopes are they defending if even one is unaccounted for, or one is allowed to drift into the despair of drug use, violence or suicide.

Thank-you.  If you carried a rifle, or a bedpan, or a ball-point pen in the name of the Unites States here or abroad, I celebrate the freedom I have on your back.  Thanks for looking out for mine.