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Sunday, October 21, 2018

By ALAN KAPLAN, Navy League National President

Sacrifices come in many forms and from many people. Every day out in the field, we see the sacrifice of the men and women of our sea services — individuals who have selflessly pledged their lives to the safety and security of our nation and our families.

With the 17th anniversary of 9/11 this month, I’ve been reflecting on the many forms of sacrifice that occurred that day. Without question, those in uniform, from our military to first responders, were unwavering, some of them making the ultimate sacrifice.

But what strikes me about that time are the number of individuals who rose to the occasion. So many everyday Americans heeded the call of sacrifice and showed their support of one another. Neighbors talked to neighbors who for years were strangers. People lined up to donate blood. Mariners helped evacuate people from Manhattan in numbers not possible without their spontaneous volunteerism.

The ability to rise to the occasion lies within all of us in times of great need, but a special few continue the call to duty by pledging to support all Americans day in and day out. Many of the people who enlisted after 9/11 are still in uniform today, serving all over the world to guard us against terrorism and prevent unrest. But the inspiration to serve doesn’t stop with our brave men and women in uniform — their families are also making difficult sacrifices every day so their spouse, or mom or dad, or aunt or uncle can protect our nation.

And often, our military spouses and families are sacrificing in silence — switching jobs whenever duty calls, starting a school year in a brand-new place, learning how to navigate life in another country, or simply looking to find new friends once again.

Perhaps fittingly, this month also holds another date that marks the sacrifice of so many of these family members — Gold Star Mother’s Day. This Sept. 30 is yet another reminder that it’s not just our brave members of the military who make sacrifices for our nation — their families and everyone in their support system harbor that burden as well.

As Navy League members, we’ve all responded to the call of duty — perhaps as a veteran yourself, or the spouse or family member of one. But every single one of us knows the importance of sacrificing our time and talents during both times that try and times of peace. Through our education and advocacy efforts, and support of sea service youth programs and sea services personnel, we help our community in a way that makes a real impact. It takes dedicated effort, and all of us working as one team, to help our sea services in ways both big and small.

Not everything has to be an annual award or a large scholarship for our youth. Simply providing people with a smile and showing them our gratitude for their decision to serve can make a life-long impact on the lives of our sea service men and women, and their families.

This month, I encourage you to seek out new ways to help in your community. Talk to your fellow council members, or members of other councils. See what they have done that has made an impact in their community. Every day I hear wonderful stories about the work we do, and sharing those moments with each other is a powerful way to get reinvigorated and inspired to continue and elevate our mission to serve those who serve others.

One Team — Mission Focused