"Thank you for your service and welcome home!"

Being a defender of freedom and liberty from the land of the free and home of the brave, I smile in my heart to hear these words, "thank you for your service." I believe President George Bush was the first I heard mention them to the military for their service against terrorists who crashed hijacked planes in the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.

I wear an Army t-shirt and 82nd Airborne Division cap daily and people say, “Thank you for your service.” One day while passing a restaurant, someone pronounced, “Airborne.” I responded, “All The way” then I heard the sealing deal, “and some.” It is awesome to be uplifted.

One day in Sam’s Club while checking out, a fellow looked at my 82nd Airborne cap, and asked “Are you a serviceman?” I responded “definitely.” He reached in his pocket, placed a $20 bill in my hand and said, “Thank you for your service, buy yourself a cup of coffee.”

While leaving a restaurant, a fellow stopped me and proclaimed, “Man you’re a bad dude." I told my wife look to at his cap, he jumped out of airplanes in the army.” He told me about his brother who served with the 101st Airborne. I explained my service with the 101st Airborne when I was a sergeant in the 1st/502 Infantry, and Colin Powell, retired general and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff was my brigade commander. We attended the same chapel, and had coffee on Sundays. During those Sunday chats, he inspired me to be an officer. Then he said, “I knew it, you’re the man.”

I attended various universities and was paid by the military to obtain my degree. My home was guaranteed by the Veteran’s Administration. My treatments and medications were covered. I've traveled the world with the military and saw places people only dreamed about. I have also been associated with upstanding people, and have been greatly celebrated instead of meagerly tolerated.

I wear my t-shirt and 82nd Airborne cap daily.

Am I proud of my service? “Most definitely.” I am inspired being a “lifer, who jumps out of a perfectly good airplane while in flight at night.” It’s great being appreciated. Thank you, everyone for recognizing my service as a defender of freedom and liberty in the land of the free and home of the brave. President John Kennedy said, “Think not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” And to each of you I say, “Airborne all the way, and then some!”

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