RAY VAN DUSEN: A walk in those boots

By Ray Van Dusen/Monroe Journal

The lifeguards’ bare feet are sprinkled with sand as they dash the shorelines when things go bad on red flag warning days. The park rangers in the mountainous states wear snow shoes when looking for somebody trapped by an avalanche of white snow.
The doctors and RNs wear running shoes so they can be quick on their feet in the event of a code blue.
What the everyday heroes put on their feet says a lot about the lives they live and what it takes to comfortably and easily achieve their contribution to society.
When the slip on work boots and business-powered high heels make their way to the closets for 12-month intervals, the combat boots navigate their tenants through hero status one tour of duty at a time.
Heroes jump out of big movie screens in 3D, Hollywood-orchestrated action scenes. The career paths some take drop them in that role for every life they save or every crime solved.
We’re apt to cheer on the fictitious superheroes in our DVD collections or the first-responders who work around the clock in our times of need. At the same time, there are still heroes that live among us, camouflaged in the same suits and ties or torn blue jeans and grease-stained shirts we wear in our own 9-5 or sun up to sun down lives.
Most of the time we never know it until they have to trade a weekend hanging out at the ball game or fishing hole with us for the monthly drill and desert fatigues.
It may be a short time in the full scope of things, but it’s still a life left behind. We’re creatures of comfort well aware of the scary world outside of that zone. Half a world away, the soldiers have learned to adapt to a lifestyle outside of that same zone.
The sands of Afghanistan are a far cry from the green grass of home, but regardless they’re making the best of it to secure our best interests. We all sleep beneath a big sky and lots of stars every night, but when the sun rises in Kabul nine and a half hours before Monroe County sees daylight, it’s hard to relate.
For most of us, we can’t relate to having to watch a newborn grow over Skype or holding the grip of a machine gun instead of the hand of a loved one. It’s a huge sacrifice the servicemen and women of our military make without the slightest objection.
A little bit of time isn’t much of a sacrifice on our part, but spending it by showing our appreciation goes a long way.
On Tuesday, 87 of our own will make their way through town, down Aberdeen’s Main Street, onto Afghanistan to fight for the freedoms we easily overlook. The past decade has been a constant reminder of how vulnerable those freedoms can be at the hand of terrorism.
Basic training and their call to service have given them the background to wage the war against it. As civilians, there’s not much we can do to deter an attack or gather intelligence that leads to the capture of an Al-Qaeda leader, but we can show our support for those who can.
As the convoy winds it way through town Tuesday, come out and show your support for the military headed overseas to protect our rights to work, vote and live freely. It only takes a few minutes to walk out of those same offices and houses to cheer them on and let them know how much we appreciate them.
Come out Sunday to the American Legion to partake in an evening full of events. It’s a fun way to pay tribute to these soldiers.
It’s that simple kind of morale boost that assures the difference they make. Once you look beyond the military training, the diligence, the unselfishness and the valor, these people are us. We all need positive reinforcement so thank a soldier and keep in mind the comforts that make you sleep easily at night.

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