This was the third time that we have done this and each time gets better and better. The Families really enjoy it and it is something that is very unique. The unique factor is that you can scuba dive your whole life and not see all the sea life that you see in the aquarium in the 30-45 minutes that you are there. The staff and volunteers are awesome and really care about helping our Soldiers and Families. On this trip, we had one couple that has three children, one of which was young preschooler. They were going to swim at different times so that one of them could be with the little ones. Well, two of the DIP volunteers stepped up and said, "we got this" and they watched those little ones for the next two hours while Mom and Dad got a chance to swim together. It was awesome watching the couple swim hand in hand in the aquarium and looking down from their vantage point seeing their three girls waving and taking pictures of mom and dad.
At Christmas time, many people get caught up in the commercialization of Christmas and forget the true meaning of Christmas - the celebration of Christ's birth. Instead, what ensues is a period of time where the stores are packed and Wal Mart is crazy with frenzied people looking for that awesome gift for that third cousin they may or may not see at Christmas - insert smiley face as I know you all know what I mean. I am fortunate to be with my Family this year over the next few days and as a person who served in the military, that is not something to be taken lightly. I watched on Face Book as many of my brothers posted that their child, now serving in our Armed Forces, were home for Christmas. I know that they are not taking that for granted.
I am also fortunate in that working with TFD I have been given me the opportunity to get to know many new Soldiers and their Families over the last five years as well as many volunteers and donors. We have met men and women who have served this great country and have sacrificed more than we can imagine. Their Families, too, have sacrificed so much: time away from their Soldier, the emotional distress of deployment after deployment and the relief that they come home. The tragedy and supreme sacrifice is when they lose their Soldier. This opens up a whole new path of life that no one chose, but they are forced to travel and be strong for their children. For these Gold Star Families, I am humbled and can only say that I am sorry for their loss and I know that doesn't come close to meaning anything to them; however, action speaks louder than words.
What we, as a Foundation, can do is to be there for them in their time of need. I have the opportunity to work with a group of people that inspire me on a daily basis for their love and energy to help. When I get tired, I think of those that are wounded and whose life has been so dramatically changed. That energizes me and helps me to focus on what is important in life: helping others who are in need.
As you celebrate this Christmas season and as one of my special friends celebrates Chanukah, it is not about what you get, but about what you give. Giving to those in need is what will give you that warm, fuzzy feeling that you only get when you know that you have made a difference in someone's life.
So....take a step back from your hectic holiday pace and take a moment and reflect on what you have to be thankful for this season: family and friends and those enduring relationships you have developed over your life. To all those who donate, volunteer, and help out with TFD, I want you to know that we don't take you for granted. Thank you! Without you believing in what we do and stepping up, we would not be here.
Til next time...