One of the most memorable stops on my vacation was one that was not planned. On the drive to Rapid City, we spotted a HUGE cemetery outside of Sturgis. It appeared to be a federal site, but neither of us knew anything about it. We made a note to check it out on our way back.

On the return trip, I got out my favorite tool…my iPhone…and googled the cemetery. Turns out it is the Black Hills National Cemetery. So why am I writing about this? Because it’s a sight that will stay with me forever. I don’t get out much…I’ve never been to Arlington or any other large Veteran’s cemetery. So seeing something of this magnitude really got to me.

This is only a very small portion of it. It amazed me that there are soldiers who died at the Battle of Little Big Horn and soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan buried side-by-side. It just stirs my soul to think that these soldiers that die in different decades, different countries, and different wars can come together as brothers again in this beautiful setting.

I consider myself a patriot…a loyal citizen of the United States of America. But I waver at times during these troubled days. By that I mean that sometimes when I see the things that are happening, I just want to grab my family and run to some island far far away.  But when you see a sight like this it brings you back. You can’t see this and not see acts of bravery that have worked together to form this Nation. Those acts of bravery are still happening every single day. It’s so easy to forget. I work with Veterans on a daily basis, and yet I still forget. We all get caught up in the negative, whether it’s politics or the economy or just life in general. But on this day I vow to remember that every single thing I have today is a gift that was fought for by someone somewhere. Because we can’t see it or touch it doesn’t make the sacrifices any less of a reality. This isn’t Veterans Day or Memorial Day. It’s Independence Day. And I am thankful that I am not bowing to a Queen somewhere or being tortured for my beliefs. It could have been so were it not for these….