The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
Finding the sacred in everyday life
Happy Veterans Day — and thank you every day
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Marketta Gregory never meant to be a columnist. \x34I trained to be a newspaper reporter -- one who tried to her best to be objective. I covered religion for a few years and felt like it was the best job a curious woman like me could ever have. ...
Simply Faithful
Marketta Gregory never meant to be a columnist. I trained to be a newspaper reporter -- one who tried to her best to be objective. I covered religion for a few years and felt like it was the best job a curious woman like me could ever have. Every day I got to listen as people told me about the things that were most important to them, the things that were sacred. But the newspaper industry was changing and few papers could afford to have an army of speciality reporters. So, I moved to cover the suburbs where, as luck would have it, they have plenty of religion, too. Eventually, children came into the picture. One by birth and another two months later by foster care/adoption. I struggled to chase breaking news and be home at a decent hour, so I made the move to what we journalists call the dark side: I took a job in public relations. (Don't worry. I work for a great non-profit, so it's not dark at all.) When I gave my notice at the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, the executive editor asked me to consider writing a column on a freelance basis. She didn't want the newspaper to lose touch with its religious sources, and she still wanted consistent faith coverage. I was terrified. It took me about 10 months to get back to her with a solid plan and some sample columns. And so it began, this journey of opening up my heart to strangers.
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Nov. 11, 2013 12:01 a.m.

IMG_8477I†never knew my husband when he was on active duty in the military. I’ve only seen pictures of him wearing the standard sailor’s hat, the navy and white uniform.
He claims I wouldn’t have liked him much then, with his foul mouth and teenaged angst, but I can’t imagine meeting him and not falling in love — at any age.
When we were planning our honeymoon, I suggested a cruise and he cringed. I had visions of sunbathing on the deck and dancing at night. He had visions of being out to sea for six months and working almost non-stop painting and repairing airplanes.
The first time we visited my family in Oklahoma, he pulled out his military duffle bag and began rolling enough shirts, pants and shoes for weeks. Then he squeezed in towels, a Brita water pitcher and filter and what seemed like 20 other things. Nobody packs for a trip like a veteran.
Brian will sometimes show our boys online videos of what sailors do the first time they cross the equator or he’ll talk about how tricky it is to get an aircraft carrier safely through the Suez Canal. But he never talks about the three airplanes he saw crash into the water or about how he still wonders 18 years later if there was something he could have done better as an airplane mechanic.
I didn’t know about the crashes until we were closing in on our eighth wedding anniversary. Brian was having some medical and educational testing done and one of the questionnaires touched on traumatic events. If the doctor hadn’t referenced the airplane crashes in his report, I probably still wouldn’t know about them.
I’d continue buying Brian a card on Veterans Day and thanking him on the Fourth of July, and I wouldn’t realize that his tour of duty isn’t quite done.
Like so many other men and women, he has the paperwork, the formal discharge and the medals — and still he carries a heavy weight. Still he serves.
Our veterans may be out of harm’s way. They may have made it safely home. But they still need our prayers and they deserve our thanks for a lifetime of service.

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