"Courage is almost a contradiction in terms: it means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die."
- Gilbert K. Chesterton
Now and then I find myself on the back of a boat with someone famous - sometimes they are great to have on board (funny, friendly, easy going), and sometimes they're an ass.
Often the best thing about having a famous passenger is being able to tell your gondolier friends that you took them out.
Most don't actually live up to the hype.
I've had people on my boat who I knew were there to evaluate the experience (travel writers, reviewers, etc.) and I tend to pay a bit more attention to details - knowing full-well that everything can and will be critiqued.
But there is one class of passengers who I take more seriously than any other - servicemen who are about to be deployed.
With two conflicts being actively fought right now, there are a lot more men and women calling my company and looking to do something special before their departure. I've had a lot of these folks on my gondola lately, and it affects me more than I would ever have thought.
In my twenties I came very close to joining the Marine Corps, since then I often wonder what my life would be like if I had signed up. Dreams of being stationed in exotic countries and "seeing the world" used to be common. Back then we had no wars going on.
If I had joined, I would likely have ended up in Kuwait; Desert Storm took place shortly after that point.
These days when I entertain the same wonderings,
I think about all of our men and women in uniform, who are willing to put their lives on the line for this country...and do. I'm humbled.
Whenever I visit my Texas operation, I pass through the DFW airport; it's impossible to walk through that place without seeing men and women in uniform - going and coming from long tours in dangerous places.
The ones coming home have a look of relief, of homecoming.
The ones shipping out have an entirely different expression - they know that they might not come home alive.
So when I find myself rowing for a guy who's about to be deployed - I take it seriously. When I tell him to kiss his sweetheart under the bridge, it's easy to get choked up, knowing that he's making a memory he'll need to hang on to for a long time - as he goes to a dangerous place and risks it all for the rest of us. When I sing for these couples - I give it my all.
As the 4th of July draws near, I encourage all of my American readers to think of these men and women. Think of how much they are willing to sacrifice for this country to keep it great.
Thanks Greg, for supporting the men and women who give so much for our country, and for being publiic about your support. God bless!
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