Recently, I noticed top politicians wearing the Armed Forces emblem with the Remembrance Day, a month or so away, a day set aside to celebrate fallen soldiers and veterans.
So I am here thinking when do we celebrate serving men and women? I am not sure if it’s part of our culture, but we Nigerians sure know how to celebrate the dead. I wonder if there is anything that stops us from celebrating people whilst they are alive.
For a military wife like myself and many others, our husbands are heroes, they do not wear capes they wear dog tags. I am almost certain that all military personnel signed up knowing that the ultimate sacrifice and price they may end up paying is their life because they believe in what they do and do it without need or want for praise.
My husband certainly doesn’t see himself as a hero, but I do and I am convinced that all men and women of the Armed Forces deserve appreciation.
These men and women deserve our thanks because of what they go through daily both physically and mentally. For example, an officer told me he doesn’t kill just for the fun of it, but he fights hard because of how much he loves what he left behind, his family.
I have been to countries were personnel are given a standing ovation and thanked for their service. All I ask is a simple ‘thank you’ that should suffice. I will not pretend we do not have obnoxious, power drunk servicemen and women, but they are not a true reflection of the majority. I ask that we ignore them and appreciate the good ones.
Believe me; neither the men and women of the military nor their spouses fool themselves into believing our heroes will live forever. In as much as we all know they could all die in service, I tell you with 100 percent conviction we all pray for it not to be so.
I hear people bash and say non-complimentary things about our military, but unless you are willing to pick up a rifle and defend our country, I suggest you stop criticizing those who are and be thankful for their sacrifice whether you agree with it or not.
These men and women in uniform are human at the end of the day; someone’s husband, wife, mother, father, daughter and son. They all have fears, but as heroes it goes unseen.
Military spouses see firsthand what our gallant soldiers go through and the extent of their sacrifices. We have woken up to news of a neighbour’s death and ended up being the support system to a sister in need.
Some personnel have had to sacrifice their marriages; some are plagued with worry as they pass on the baton of leadership to their wives for months on end. Some only get to meet the new additions to their family months later, in addition to not being available to support wives during pregnancy.
Some reel from hurt when daddy’s little girl cries in daddy’s hands because daddy is a stranger. Some do not realize they have lost a loved one till weeks later due to communication problems. I could go on and on.
I came to the realization that I am guilty of what I berate others for. I pray for our spouses every day, express boundless joy when they return home safe, but never have I explicitly and expressly said thank you for my being able to sleep at night.
We thank them in other ways; we thank them by always being strong. The few times we hear their voices we assure them that all is well at the home front, tell them don’t worry about us, worry about how to defeat the enemy.
Please next time you see a personnel, be it Air Force, Army or Navy please say THANK YOU. When duty calls, they are torn between family and the job. But as men and women of honour they heed the call to defend the country.
When Lt. Col. Abu Ali died, we all came together as a nation and mourned him. I was inconsolable and filled with regret for not having expressed our thanks to and pride in him.
He was truly a gentleman and an officer. I pray we can all come together again and celebrate and show thanks to our living heroes. Please let’s not wait till they are no more. They cannot all be honoured and promoted, but they are all willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice for God and Country.
I am often asked, how do you do it? How do you love a military man? That is probably the easiest thing I have ever done. The anxiety is hard, the distance is hard, the worry is hard, but loving him is easy, loving him is a pride, loving him is an honour and privilege all thanks to the Grace of God. Please thank a soldier today.
For all our heroes and heroines in the Armed Forces, we say today ‘Thank you for your service’