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Count Your Blessings
11/13/2013 2:13:14 PM

By Beverly Gadson-Birch

I try to live my life without regrets. It hasn’t always been that way. It seems like such a long time ago I was pretty much like today’s young people, living for the weekend. I worked hard all week and enjoyed the weekend with my friends not ever feeling like my life was in danger from foreign countries. The only danger facing me at the time was segregation. I could not understand it and would not accept it. My fight was in the streets of America.

I grew up during the Vietnam era. It was difficult for me to rationalize why Black soldiers had to fight front line in a war abroad when they were not free at home. It was still the days of sharecroppers, tobacco farming, cotton picking and picking on Negroes.

Several of my friends and schoolmates barely out of high school were on their way to fight in a war that many believe the United State should not have been involved in. Schoolmates, Wesley Parker and Winston Hamilton did not make it back. They had but a short time to live here in America before dying alone on foreign soil. What a tragedy for their families who no doubt had high hopes for their sons. Wesley and Winston gave their all and for that I salute them and all of the others who died or were wounded so America could be safe.

It was the Viet Nam war that I remember the guys talking about receiving “Dear John” letters. Imagine those soldiers stuck in the middle of wet fields in a strange land facing the possibility of death at any minute and receiving a letter from their girl ending their relationship. In addition to facing death, soldiers face abandonment and divorce. You spend many days away from home. It’s a tough life.

This week, we celebrated Veteran’s Day. I took time out to contact my veteran family and friends to thank them for their service to this country. I hope you did the same. It would be difficult to imagine America without the military.

As we celebrated Veteran’s Day here in America, my attention was drawn to the deadly typhoon in the Philippines. And guess who had just arrived to help, the United States Marines. Our men and women put their lives on the line everyday as they enter very dangerous situations to rescue those that have been injured or stranded in buildings and even remote islands. Oftentimes, they are the first responders as they set up patrols, security, and medical stations. The mighty Air Force airlifts the injured to medical facilities and air drop water, food and supplies.

My advice to this generation is while you are out living for the weekend and taking your freedom for granted, don’t live your life with regrets. Youth will give way to old age. Think about our soldiers who put their lives on the line each day to keep America safe. Think about what would happen if our borders and airspace weren’t secured. Think about a war being fought on American soil. Think back on what happened on 9/11 at the World Trade Center, Pentagon and in Pennsylvania. Think about a Hurricane of 175 mph of sustained winds hitting the United States. Think about who would come to your aid. As you age you become wiser; or, at least that is the logical assumption. When you know better, you do better.

Think about your family and friends while they are away keeping America safe. Think about our soldiers and pray for those who have been assigned to the Philippines to aid in rescue and recovery. Think about the diseases they might face while working to assist those in need.

I no longer live for the weekend. I am just trying to get through each day. My granny used to say, “live long enough and you will get to that”. I don’t know what I was supposed to get to but I think I have arrived.

Y’all do the right thing and support your men and women in uniform. Give it up for the veterans and our men and women in uniform.

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