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I enjoyed watching my youngest son spin his rifle with the drill team with arms from Monterey High. He did a good job. He amazes me with his ability to spin that thing. But throughout the festivities of the day, I kept thinking about the opening ceremonies and the impact a stranger had on me that day.

He snapped to attention as the flag was posted and the Public Address System began to play the National Anthem. My eyes alternated between the flag and the old sailor as I sang along with the music. The flag, as always musters up warm thoughts for me-4th of July picnics, baseball games, saying the pledge of allegiance as a child. I always stand respectively, with my hand over my heart as the National Anthem plays and have very low tolerance for people talking or treating the moment casually. But the way this man stood showed more than respect, it betrayed a lifestyle of love, devotion and service.

The Cadets of the JROTC below his position in the stands stood in a similar way, but they looked stiff and uncomfortable. They were embarking on a journey that this man had returned from. I never spoke to the man to find out his story, I don't know what his eyes had seen or what horrors he repressed. I don't know if he bore any wounds, mental or physical because of his service. I never found out if his stories were sad or funny, hard to talk about or if they flowed like honey, but I'm sure of one thing-I'm sure he had a story to tell.

Looking at the flag though his eyes, made mine mist up a little bit. I come from a long line of civilians-people who have enjoyed the freedom that others have fought to provide. I'm not saying this man loves his country anymore than I do, but I am saying he's paid a greater price than I have and for that he is due my respect and gratitude. And today, his shipmates that didn't return home deserve being remembered.

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365 Days includes Volumes 1-4
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Impact Preaching: A Case for the
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