First off, thank you for all your wonderful comments on Monday’s post. In case you missed it, in honor of National Eating Disorder Awareness week, I did a Q & A, and answered your questions, and I was just so touched by all your compassionate and loving responses. So thank you – the world needs more empathetic people like you!
So I was traveling all day yesterday.
After my shoot last week, my parents and I snuck away to Utah for a weekend of skiing. I had a couple days off, and after my mom’s stroke last year, I’ve fully embraced my new found appreciation for the fragility of life, and so I’ve adopted the motto that life is short, and you should just go for it, in every aspect of life.
Hence why, this morning, I sent an email to a particular gentleman, nonchalantly giving him my phone number.
But that’s a story for a different day.
But flying into JFK, it was a bit of a jarring reality check, from the cozy mountain oasis I left that morning.
Whenever I’m with my parents, I suddenly become super aware of how potentially dangerous New York City is. I mean, living here, that thought never even crosses my mind. Frankly, I feel safer in Manhattan than I do back in Ohio. But, whenever I spend time with my parental units, I suddenly see my existence through their eyes – and the worries it presents them.
So walking into JFK, I saw several military soldiers, in uniform, patrolling the airport with big rifles. And honestly it scared me a little bit.
But I proceeded to schlep my bags down to the subway, and waited on the Queens platform for the train to take me on the long trip back to Manhattan.
And it was getting dark, and – not that I was getting scared – I mean, I was happy as a clam, chomping away on my baby carrots and listening to a Bachelor recap podcast – but I noticed four police officers, patrolling the platform.
Dang, apparently, security is on high alert, I thought.
And when I got off at my station – there were four more police officers.
For the first time, I recognized the lengths we’re going to for our safety.
But there was something that happened, between the airport and when I arrived at my front door.
Back at baggage claim, when I saw that young man in the military, all dressed up in his camo and carrying that big gun…my initial thought was fear. But then, it was like my eyes were given this new filter. Because I suddenly saw that solider as someone’s son. Maybe someone’s husband, or boyfriend. And here he was, serving me. Protecting me, with his own life, if necessary.
And so, I walked over to him, and looked him in the eye, and said, “Thank you for your service.”
Our eyes locked for a minute, and I could see this shift in his posture. I just felt this appreciation that someone noticed. The sacrifice he was making was being acknowledged.
And in the most earnest voice I think I’ve ever head in my life, he goes, “Thank you, ma’am.”
Which, yeah I know sounds kind of anti-climactic — but it was just the way he said it — it made me want to cry.
That’s the thing. I feel like in all the politics and gun debates and insult hurling that is so rampant in today’s culture, we’ve forgotten that there are men and women who are actively serving us each and every day – our military and our law enforcement officers.
Quietly. Humbly. If we’re not looking for it, we wouldn’t even know.
In recent weeks here, our nation has been so focused on the “bad guys.” Which, rightfully so after the tragedies we’ve endured as a nation. But what about the good guys?
The men and women who fly under the radar each and every day…seemingly forgotten…or worse — villainized because of a handful of “bad apples.”
I think so often, we forget that freedom isn’t free.
I kept thinking about that during the olympics. Watching the North Korean cheerleaders, who charmed their way into our hearts with their peppy chanting, synchronized songs, and permanent smiles.
The story of these 229 women is not so glamourous. (For perspective, North Korea only sent 22 athletes). But these women were hand picked and taken from college by the regime after meeting certain height, beauty, and family pedigree specifications, and then forced to travel to the games. They were chaperoned by male counterparts literally the entire time, forbidden to talk to anyone, and forbidden to discuss the outside world when they return to North Korea. You can read about it here – from one of these young women who escaped.
But that is a reality for some people. In 2018. Thankfully that is not our story here in the United States, and the free world.
But that privilege came at a price. And continues to come at a price.
One that that young man in the airport pays for me each and every day.
It’s time we look up from our Snapchat filters, and take a break from bashing our political opponents, to notice. And acknowledge.
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