Saturday I attended the ceremony in Leo that welcomed home a local hero, Brandon Long. Brandon is a young man who, for whatever reasons, chose to join the Marine Corps. He was sent to Afghanistan and it was there that in December of 2010 he stepped on an IED which cost him both of his legs.
Although we had only a brief conversation and a quick chance to snap a picture, I felt privileged to have the opportunity to meet him. I was in awe of him. He is young, only my age or maybe even slightly younger, yet his bravery, confidence, and tenacity go beyond that of most people I know. I don’t know much about his past, but I do know that the day he signed up for the Corps was a day that America gained a hero. Along with many others, he bravely answered the call of his country and went to war. There he saw things that no one should see, yet he did it with a strength that blows me away. There, with others, he fought his hardest and for us he sacrificed not only his limbs, but life as he knew it was dramatically changed.
I have a friend who has been deployed in the mid-east multiple times. He’s over there again. Honestly, I am awed by him, mainly because I could never imagine doing what he does. This goes for every single man and woman who gives of themselves to serve in the military. The courage and bravery that they have are more than I can imagine.
When these brave people come home we ought to use every chance to welcome them in the biggest ways possible. Whether it is lining the dive way of an American Legion to welcome home a wounded veteran, standing in an airport with signs, balloons, and patriotic t-shirts as a military person walks off a plane, or standing in a cemetery paying our final respects to one who has paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, we ought to give some of our time and effort for these dear people who have given so much so that we can live in the greatest country in the world.