(This blog was originally posted on Nov. 11, 2014)
James Baldwin said, "Our crown has already been bought and paid for. All we have to do is wear it."
This quote is especially poignant on this Veterans Day as I reflect on the direct impact that those who have served and fought to protect our freedom have made on my life.
I think about my daughter asleep in her crib and me sitting here, a work from home mom, and I reflect on the struggles those that came before me endured so I could live the life that I have now.
It's humbling and profound.
My grandfather, Helmut (his name was later changed to Herbert) Standke came over on the boat from Germany to Ellis Island. He left his homeland to escape being drafted in to Hitler's Nazi Youth Movement and sat on a boat to cross the Atlantic Ocean to begin a completely new life here. He was only 12 years old.
Years later, he would return to his homeland, serving in the United States military fighting WWII.
Can you even begin to imagine what any of that felt like?
In another lifetime, my father enlisted as a Navy service member and served in Vietnam. He worked as a hospital corpsman attached to First Hospital Company and saw things I couldn't dream up in my worst nightmares. He served for 3 years, 9 months, 15 days, 6 hours and 37 minutes. He came back and eventually became the father of 4 children and is one of the most positive, intense and hilarious people I know.
The stories of my grandmothers and their families are equally intense and while I do not know all of the incredible details, the fact is, I am only 2-3 generations removed from Scotland, Lithuania, Germany & Greece.
What an amazing gift.
My mother's mother, Eva Bakas, was a nurse at a military hospital among many other roles. She was also a stellar athlete with a quick wit, a mother of 6 and she had the most gorgeous skin you have ever seen all of her life.
My father's mother, Jessie York, swam every day of her life until she was 87. She came over on the boat from Scotland and she could throw a beer back like the best of 'em. She never missed a birthday or Christmas with a card for us and while we didn't get to see her as much as we would have liked to, I will never forget these things about her.
My crown was paid for.
Through their sacrifices, through their survival, I get to live THIS LIFE. I get to be *here* worrying about the silly things that I worry about each and every day.
My prayer for my daughter is that she honors and learns the significance of the journeys others lived before us.
I want her to know that their commitment to thrive, stretch, serve and grow were a conscious attempt to make our lives easier, today.
She, like me, gets to ride on the shoulders of the giants that came before us.
And this simple fact fills me up and reminds me that the angels are all around me...holding me up...nudging me forward...reminding me that I have big things to do here.
I have a legacy to continue.
We're all in this together.
Thank you to all of those past and present who have made it possible for us to be in this time and place living incredible lives as a result of your hard work and commitment to your big vision.