A day to reflect

Today is a day to remember freedom can’t be taken for granted.

My wife is a veteran. Members of our families fought for this nation in almost every conflict we’ve engaged, from the time thirteen colonies united as thirteen states to present-day strife in the Middle East. I cannot express how proud I am of family members who have done so much for our country.

One of my former customers was a metalworker. A blacksmith, actually. I haven’t sought permission to use her name, so I should offer my respect without identifying her.

She worked iron with forge, tongs, and hammer, and that’s a job not commonly held by women. She is definitely not a common person.

When her sons joined the military to fight terrorism, she said she didn’t want her sons to do anything she wouldn’t do. In the last days before her age prevented enlistment, she joined the Army.

Her responsibilities grew as she demonstrated her worth and rose in rank.

She eventually led a field hospital in the Middle East and was awarded a Bronze Star for her role in streamlining response to battlefield injury. Mere minutes separated a wounded soldier from lifesaving medical care under her leadership. You won’t get aid that quickly in a peaceful major city anywhere.

There were always challenges. Availability of supplies could reduce quality of care. Logistics needed improvement. She had never written a line of code, but saw the value of automated analysis.

She taught herself Visual Basic and used it and other tools to work out supply chain models. Her predictive algorithms saved lives, reduced suffering, and won for her a second Bronze Star. She was the first person in her unit to earn that honor.

“If you’re busted up and you’ll behave, get on the plane and we’ll get you what you need.”

There were news stories, back in those days, about abusive acts by our military. I asked her about the treatment of enemy casualties. She said the uniforms didn’t matter. “If you’re busted up and you’ll behave, get on the plane and we’ll get you what you need.”

Of all the reasons I’m proud to be an American, this particularly brings tears of humility. Our armed forces have to be ready to answer terrible calls of duty, and they are equally ready to deliver salvation and aid.

That’s not just a collective commitment of our armed forces. That’s in the soul of every individual man or woman wearing an American uniform.

God bless America, God bless her defenders, and may I be granted the strength to be worthy in any small way of the sacrifices made in freedom’s name.

Best Veteran’s Day wishes to all.