Most weekday mornings I start my day with a walk at the local park. My mom and a friend of hers started the routine years ago and, after graduating from college, I started joining them. I much prefer exercising outdoors to being cooped up inside a gym, but when the heat of the summer sets in, we head for the air conditioner. When it's too hot to walk outside, but we don't feel like being strapped to a treadmill, we will go to the mall, which opens at 7 a.m. for walkers. Even though we only walk at the mall occasionally, when we do, we often see the same people. They remember us and greet us with big smiles and jovial "Good mornings!" even if we haven't seen them in months.
There is one older gentleman that we see almost every time we walk at the mall. I don't know his name, but he is immediately recognizable by both his cheerful personality and his unique hat that has an American flag on top (not a picture of the American flag, but an actual miniature flag). This man is a 90 year-old Veteran whose love of country is evident to all he encounters. Ask him how he's doing and he says, "I'm great! But I'm great every day!" Today, as we celebrate all our veterans, I can't help but think of this man. How fortunate we are, as a nation, to have had so many men and women like him selflessly defend our freedom and keep us safe. I wish I had a photograph of our friend from the mall to share with you. It would surely put a smile on your face. Instead, I'd like to share a portrait I took of my cousin, Chris, who is currently serving in the Army National Guard. We must remember to thank these men and women who sacrificed and those who continue to sacrifice so much for all of us.
To all members of the armed forces who have served and continue to serve our country, THANK YOU!