Heroes who live among us

Then and now: Drew and Matt with Jeff, early 1986, and at Jeff’s grave, August 2018.

“There are two kinds of heroes. Heroes who shine in the face of great adversity, who perform an amazing feat in a difficult situation. And heroes who live among us, who do their work unceremoniously, unnoticed by many of us, but who make a difference in the lives of others.”Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono

Yesterday was Veteran’s Day, and some may have a holiday today in honor of those who have served in the military. Yudhoyono’s quote seemed appropriate for this day, because most troops will never be singled out for special honor or widespread acclaim. Yet the life of our nation depends on their faithfulness to duty, their willingness to show up day after day for whatever demands are placed upon them to secure the overall mission of the armed forces.

Through 30 years of Jeff’s military career, I came to have a deep respect for the discipline, humility and tenacity of the women and men who are willing to take on a way of life requiring sacrifices that are largely unseen and sometimes misunderstood. Our veterans are everyday people with families, obligations, interests, hopes and dreams, but they have made the commitment to set all of these aside at a moment’s notice and put themselves in harm’s way, if necessary, to protect all of us.

Even in peace time, or when not deployed to a war zone, soldiers, sailors and airmen participate in readiness exercises that sometimes require reporting to duty in the middle of the night, or being called without notice to undisclosed locations for unspecified lengths of time. Service members are on call 24/7, and even when they take leave (civilians call it a vacation) they have to furnish detailed information where they can be reached at any time. In a very real sense, they are always on duty, never far from their professional responsibilities and obligations.

Whether or not you have friends or family in the armed forces, our veterans have almost certainly made a difference in your life. I hope you will join me today in remembering them with gratitude and honor.


  1. Chris

    Great post, Julia; the photos, the quote, and your sentiments. And yesterday was the 100th anniversary of the Armistice of 1918, ending WWI. We must thank God foremost for our nation’s blessings and becoming the icon of nations. A hundred years of growth and rise to prominence; however, was most probably borne on the backs of veterans.
    Duty, Honor, Country!

    • Chris, I’ve read a lot over the years about World War II, but hardly know anything about World War I except that it was a cruel and devastating war that only laid the ground for later conflict. Visiting Flanders Fields and Ieper, Belgium in 2007 (where we stayed in a farmhouse B&B in the Ypres salient) gave me a bit more understanding, as did reading the journals of C. S. Lewis, who was wounded in the trenches. “All gave some and some gave all,” and now I wonder how many of us today have any real comprehension of how much we owe to other people’s sacrifices. Thanks for being here.

  2. Sheila

    Good Monday afternoon, Julia. This was so meaningful to me and such a beautiful tribute to so many. It really was a most patriotic weekend with the USMC 243rd Birthday on Saturday and the many Veterans Day services and celebrations even continuing today. I’m so glad that I read the related post “A Genuine Man” again! Jeff was a HERO to so many and in different walks of life! Thank you for sharing the photo of Matt in Arlington on Saturday! 🇺🇸 It’s a gloomy day in Garden City so we’re just chilling. Love to you and Matt, She 🌧🥰

    • Thank you, Sheila. I go back and read these things and the pain is fresh, but so is the love and gratitude. Thanks for STILL being here! Your love and friendship continue to bless us and we love you back!!! ❤

  3. Carolyn

    Yes, I will always remember our Veterans and the ones that are helping to keep us free now. I love your pictures and Jeff will always have a special place in my heart. We worked together and even had Cancer at the same time. I have been blessed and Jeff is with our Lord. Love you Julia and Matt.

    • Thank you Carolyn, I got your lovely card and it brought back memories of our first years together with you in Bartlett, when we could not have survived without you. Seems a lifetime ago and yet the years have flown by, haven’t they? So many people come and go in our lives, but a special few stay. I’m so glad you are among those who stay always!! Love you! ❤

  4. Hi Julia ! I was also thinking about how many times you’ve moved and the sacrifices you’ve made too. Although, when you love someone, it doesn’t feel like a sacrifice. The quote is spot on isn’t it? Most people I know, would shy away from accolades and would hardly feel comfortable being called a hero. But with simple kind and thoughtful gestures, who know’s what affect we have on the everyday life of others. xo K

    • The moving is a sacrifice, and a heart-rending one at that, but then it was always offset by being on a new adventure together. That’s what made this recent move so hard and even devastatingly sad. There was no “together” as I was handling everything alone. The sorrow of it caught me completely off guard. But you are right about the heroes, and not knowing what effect we have on others. Guess who is one of my favorite heroes? YOU! ❤ ❤ ❤

      • J, ❤ ❤ ❤ I'm so sorry to know your move was sad. I wish it had been happy, the beginning of a new adventure. Perhaps it will be the prologue and you can dedicated to your one true love xo K

        • Thanks K. I keep hoping to turn some sort of proverbial corner and eventually maybe all this will seem a prologue to something or other. Meanwhile my friends bring smiles to my face and make it all bearable. ❤

  5. HarryS

    Is it we?


    • I can’t speak for anyone else, but it’s definitely not me.

  6. Good morning, Julia!
    Thank you for this writing. It evokes a lot of thought and a lot of gratitude. So many have given so much. Then, those of us that are / were paying attention aspire to give in our own ways. I can’t imagine taking arms to save even my own life, much less to defend a society’s values. Perhaps my life has been too comfortable.
    And then, I love to quip that the “pen is mightier than the sword,” and yet I rarely take up a pen to do battle against evils around us. This is why your writing is so heroic, to me. You take up your, um, computer keyboard or tablet 🙂 (yes, sometimes you do take up a pen) and say what’s sometimes difficult to say or what needs to be said. Thank you for that.

    • Susan, when I read what you wrote about me writing, I thought of Job 32:17-22– for me, NOT writing is harder than writing!! 😀 I also thought of what my friend Ashleigh Brilliant once wrote:”The pen is mightier than the sword – so, in this dangerous world, I always carry a pen.” Re: taking up arms — it’s the mercenary who defends a society’s values, and does so for pay or other gain. For most American troops, I think it’s more personal than that. Most (if not all) of the military troops I have known are willing to defend the values of themselves, their family and friends, while knowing that warfare is a complex business at best, easy to second guess from a distance. The decision of when the risk of doing nothing is greater than the risk of doing something is usually not a decision left to the individual soldier, but the ability to trust in and act on the decisions of others must be one of the hardest parts of the job. Yes, most of us live in too much comfort to understand fully. May we never be forced to give up that comfort to learn what we need to know.

      • Amen to that!
        ( …and I’m going to start carrying a pen, too! )

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