Sunday, February 9, 2014

Patriotism, Pride and Personal Involvement

A favored hobby is genealogy.  I find great pleasure in researching my families genealogy and in learning about my ancestry.  History has always intrigued me, especially my own history.

SPC Caleb M. Watkins, we are so proud of you and so thankful you are again safe at home with us!

On Saturday, February 1, my family welcomed home our own personal member of American military history.  Actually, he is just the latest in a long line of our families' men and women who are American patriots and who have served in the American military. 

From the days of the Revolution, my ancestors have fought for the liberty we enjoy as Americans.  Even before those days, they fought in the old countries alongside their family and neighbors for what they believed to be the right way.  From the Highlands of Scotland to the Irish fields and the English moors, my ancestors maintained the battle for freedom.  They boarded the great ships bound for the New Country to find liberty and were thankful and happy to fight alongside their neighbors once here to guarantee their families could live in that liberty.

In the battles of the War Between the States, my ancestors fought on both sides of the conflict, each believing they were right in their fight.  From the fields of France in World War I to the French and Belgian forests in World War II; from the Korean and Vietnamese peninsulas and into the ancient lands of Mesopotamia in the 20th and 21st centuries...our family has continued the battle for liberty and to defend freedom.

Cpl. Van P. McDonald in Germany.
My own Daddy was an American Army Marksman destined for Korea when Divine Intervention halted that march as the treaty was signed on the day he was set to sail for Korea. Instead, he spent 18 months in Germany perfecting his skills and attaining a military reputation as an expert marksman who was offered his own squad in exchange for re-enlistment.  He declined the offer and came home to do what he loved...farm.

So, when my youngest nephew, Caleb, joined the Tennessee Army National Guard, he carried on a proud tradition of service to his country and a commitment to the battle to defend America and liberty around the world.  When he completed his AIT at Fort Leonard Wood, MO with excellent marksmanship awards and the Top Gun certificate for his class of recruits, he carried on the tradition started by his Papaw Mac over a half century earlier.

Our Caleb with his niece, Allyson, as he prepares to leave Hardeman County for Fort Bliss, TX and then Afghanistan.
Last May, he left the National Guard Armory in Hardeman County, TN with the 251st MP Company to prepare for deployment to Afghanistan at Fort Bliss, TX.  They left Fort Bliss in early July, 2013 and returned home on February 1, 2014.  After 6 months in Afghanistan and 8 months away from home, the men and women of the 251st were again home with their families.  For the first time since May 28, 2013, the feet of brave Tennessee Volunteers touched the soil of Tennessee again on February 1, 2014.  They marched into the arms of waiting family and friends who were proud and honored to have them serve but more than anything, thankful to have them again safely at home.

We were no different than the other families, we are proud of our young man and so very thankful he is safe at home again.  His journey has been a trying one, with many unexpected ups and downs along the way, but he is a better man for his experience and we are better for having prayed him through it.  When he walked through that door and we saw his face and heard his voice there live in the room with us for the first time in so long, it gave us joy that is indescribable.  When his Momma ran to him and they embraced for that first time in months, tears flowed throughout the room.  Our son was home again and our family tradition of defending freedom has once again brought honor and pride to us.

My sister, Charlotte, with her son SPC Caleb M. Watkins after he surprised her with his homecoming!
Welcome home, Caleb; you stand in shoes many have filled and have walked footsteps many have walked before you and many will walk behind you.  As I once heard Mr. G. C. Bartlett say of his experiences as a P.O.W. in the German camps during World War II, "All that I suffered I would gladly do again.  I love my God and I love my country.  Liberty is worth the sacrifice".  Yes, liberty has been worth the sacrifice.  Thank you, Caleb, and every man or woman who has ever made that sacrifice; we are in your debt.

 Greater love hath no man than this, 
that a man lay down his life for his friends.
 John 15:13  (KJV)

4 comments:

Jacob Watkins said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jacob Watkins said...

That was beautiful, Aunt Di. You always know just the words to pen and the pictures to publish that will reduce me to tears. So, now I sit, misty eyed at my desk choking back a soft cry of pride, joy, love, humility, and the tiniest bit of sadness. Thank you so much for sharing your literary gifts with all of us. Love you always!

Linda Jackson said...

Prasie God for our military. I still grieve for my great nephes, his mom and grandmother and all the others who still miss him. He was killed in Irag a few days after his 12st birthday. Every time I see a uniform I try my best to get to them and thank them for their service~

Trish said...

Thank you to Caleb and all of the men in your family, who sacrificed to keep America free. Beautiful tribute Di...I can feel the pride and love in your words.