And I'm grateful for some big things. For men and women who sacrifice their lives each day to serve our country, for the blessing of waking up each morning in the land of the free, and for a son who at only 9 years old truly understands what a gift it is to be an American.
For years I've celebrated National Adoption Month as a proud adoptive mother. Many more years I've celebrated Veterans Day as a grateful American. This year those celebrations are beautifully intertwined.
My kids attend a wonderful Christian school and every November they have an amazing Veterans Day assembly. Each year they have the students write essays and make posters thanking Veterans for their service. It's a great way to make the kids really ponder the sacrifice made for our freedom.
A couple weeks ago, I asked Daniel if he wanted to write an essay in preparation for the upcoming celebration. He responded with, "I don't have much to say. I've only been an American for two years." I reminded him that he has a perspective that many don't have. That starting out in another country will give him an appreciation that many Americans will never understand.
He grabbed a few sheets of notebook paper and a pencil, went to his room and closed the door. About an hour later he returned with the following words written in his best penmanship. As he read it aloud, the tears streamed down my face. He has given me permission to share it here. I corrected his spelling and grammar--but this was all his work . . . an outpouring from his heart.
Grateful for My Country
By Daniel Williams
I am 9 years old, but I have only been an American for almost 2 years. Back in Guatemala, I was so scared sometimes that I would put furniture up against the door so no one could break in. One night I heard guns shooting and often I couldn’t sleep because I was scared. I wished I lived in a country where I was safe.
I saw kids so poor that they would make shoes out of soft drink cans and make shelter with old boxes. I saw people taking guns when they would go to the bank because they were afraid of being robbed. I saw even small children begging for food. I have never seen these things in America.
December 24, 2009 is when I knew that my life had changed. I remember when I got off of the plane when I was adopted by my family and I saw the American flag. I knew then that I would be safe, I would have a home, I would not have to worry about putting things against the door, I would have plenty of food, and I would have a family.
Thank you, Veterans, for serving our country. Thank you for being away from your families and risking your lives for us. You make our country a safe and happy country. I think the difference between Guatemala and the United States is freedom.
(Photo of Daniel and siblings on his first 4th of July as an American.)
Here's a photo taken as we were in a hurry to get out the door this morning--of Ava with the poster she made, Daniel with his essay, and Brady barely awake. (He doesn't have school on Friday and is wondering why his crazy mom is taking his pic.) The school had their beautiful celebration yesterday--such a sweet time of honoring those who serve our country.
When Daniel got home yesterday he said, "I think some day I'd like to be an Army guy and fight to protect our country." Oh, that would make this mama so proud.
Happy Veterans Day to all the brave men and women who serve our country. I'm grateful for my grandfather, my dad, and my mother-in-law's husband Bob--who passed away last April--for their service to our country and sacrifice for our freedom. Thank you, Veterans, that a little boy named Daniel is grateful to be an American because he lives in a "safe and happy country."
God Bless America!