Monday, December 21, 2009
Do you ever think about General George Washington's Christmas raid at Trenton, and his last, lonely winter camp and those cold and nearly frozen soldiers at Fort Niagara? Have you ever thought of the bitter cold of the Argonne, the Huertgen Forest and Bastogne, the Aleutians, the Chosin Reservoir, the Sava River, or Tora Bora?
Our real American heroes—not those bloated, pampered, over-indulged athletes or actors we hear so much about—are hardly given their due. They pass quietly among us, never seeking acknowledgement or fame for the difference they make every day.
On 14 December 2009, I received an email from someone who wrote, “I’ve enjoyed your blog for a long time and just wanted to let you know.”
I replied writing:
Major Givler, it is a distinct honor to know that you are a regular visitor to my blog. I hope that in some way, you are able to enjoy the blessings of this Yuletide Season. I want to personally thank you for your service and your sacrifice on our country's behalf. I am grateful to "know" a hero. By the way, every time I spot a service member I walk up to them and say, "May I shake the hand of a hero? Thank for you for your service. Our country appreciates all that you do. May Godspeed."
An undeniable warmth rises in us both and my day is made when I know that I brought a smile to the face of that service man or woman. Today, Major, may I symbolically shake your hand and thank you?
I have not asked for this hero’s permission to reprint his email response, but somehow I don’t think he’d mind.
Sun, Dec 20, 2009 at 1:04 AM
Greetings from Riyadh
Thank you for your kind words. I honestly don’t know what to say when people thank me for my service; I count it a privilege to be able to work with the greatest young men and women in the world, and I have no doubt that I have gotten much more out of my years in uniform than I’ll ever be able to repay.
I will, however, pass along your thanks to my wife, Susan, and our kids, Zach (11) and Zoe (7) who, without a doubt, are the ones who sacrifice every day in order for me to be able to do what I do. I’m coming to the end of an 18 month assignment here in Riyadh, where, for security reasons families have not been allowed. In addition to this separation, there have been two deployments to Iraq, and a year in Korea, during which my wife bore all the responsibilities of keeping our house in order while homeschooling our kids. (No sheeples there.) If anyone deserves thanks (and a pension) it is my wife, who has served our country just as much as I. As she sometimes reminds me, I get to run around, see interesting places and practice my Arabic. She gets to stay home, fix bicycle tires, cook meals, and keep our house from falling down. I don’t know how she does it.
After I leave here in January, we will have a three year tour together as a family in Portugal. I’m hoping that will be somewhat of a reward for my family.
I return your handshake and your thanks. Nothing we accomplish overseas will be of any use without people like you at home; making sure the constitution we defend abroad is still honored in our republic. All the best of God’s blessings this season, and in the New Year.
STEVEN A. GIVLER, Maj, USAF
Assistant Air Attaché
US EMBASSY Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Comm: 966.1.488.3800 ext 4429
DSN: (318) 252.4429
Frontpage interviewed Major Steven Givler, a career intelligence officer in the United States Air Force on May 17, 2006. Having flown more than thirty combat and combat support sorties in surveillance aircraft in support of the war on terror, Major Givler has traveled the length and breadth of Iraq on the ground. He is the author of Notes of Joy and Sadness, Letters and Paintings from Operation Iraqi Freedom—a collection of his letters and paintings that detail his deployments to the Persian Gulf. Some paintings from his book can be seen here.
Let me encourage you, in the midst of Christmas preparations, not to forget our troops who are serving our country and facing danger every day—and their families who miss them.