Take a deep, luxurious breath. How does it feel? Normal? It should feel both normal and abnormal.
It’s normal because it’s the same as the million of breaths that have come before it. You’re an American breathing freely whilst pursuing your life’s happiness. Yet it’s abnormal and weird because the only reason you’re content taking that breath is because there is man or woman who has earned it for you.
An American soldier has pulled on his boots, shouldered his pack, and squeezed the stock of his rifle, sweating. This man forfeited his freedoms, left his family, and sacrificed his youth. This man did all of this, yet isn’t compensated for his sacrifices. In fact, he is often shunned for going out of his way to choose this fate.
Yet, this man is the reason you are able to take your next breath, the reason you can wake up in the morning and do whatever you damn well please. This man protects the richest of the rich, yet also enables the dredge of society to suck the teat and be rewarded for sloth. He’s the reason that a bar fight, this website, or a children’s spelling bee can exist. His sacrifice is blind to the recipients’ outcome, yet it is all encompassing nonetheless.
You may have known the man with the rifle, yet he has existed for more than 200 years and he gives you this next breath freely. You are free to do whatever you want with that breath, but it’d be a disgrace if it wasn’t spent doing everything you can to be the best person, father, brother, friend, son, worker, or stranger that you can. Your last breath was a freebie; now earn your next in honor of those riflemen who make breathing possible.
Lest we forget our fallen…