In Aurora, Colorado this weekend, a family woke up to a sea of flags on their front lawn. The American flags were a tribute to Sgt. Ryan Baum, an Army Ranger who died exactly six years ago. Baum's community was telling his parents they haven't forgotten.
It's a message we don't hear enough in America. Oh, sure, we throw parades on Memorial Day, and we cry at military funerals, and we buy those little fabric poppies from the VFW. But is that enough?
What are we telling our veterans, our active duty, the families of our fallen, when we go back to our daily lives?
It's been six years since Sgt. Ryan Baum was shot by a sniper in Iraq. People cried at his funeral, and a grateful nation said thank you six years ago. But his sacrifice didn't just up and disappear when the mourners went home.
Baum was still gone. And six years on, the flag tribute thought up by his sister, Mande Nantkes, to surprise their parents meant just as much, if not more, as the people who were there when he actually gave his life for his country.
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Because they cared enough to stop what they were doing and remember ... six whole YEARS later.
This is the tightrope we walk as Americans. We can live our daily, normal lives in no small part because of the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform. We don't have to think about them at every moment. That's their gift to us.
And yet, how many Americans recognize that gift and do something to thank the giver? How many of us just shut off after the holiday is over, the homecoming celebrated, the fallen mourned?
Can't we do more? Shouldn't we?
A front lawn blanketed in flags was a small gesture from the folks in Aurora. It didn't take long or much money. But it meant everything.
Are you inspired to do something? What?
Image by Jeanne Sager