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Remembering the heroes of today

If a person is not directly connected with the military, the thought of those serving can slip the mind. Relatives and friends, however, may be reminded on a daily basis as their spouse, parent or sibling serves overseas.

Multiple famous individuals have served on active duty, including Sean Connery, Chuck Norris, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley and Gene Wilder, according to popcrunch.com.

Some big-time celebrities have military parents, such as Christina Aguilera, Reese Witherspoon, Bruce Willis, Shaquille O’Neal and Bob Marley, according to rander.com.

“Since 2001, more than 2 million American children have had a parent deployed at least once,” according to a government report from The Demographics of Military Children and Families.

Thirty-seven percent of those children seriously worry about the well-being of their parent while they are away, according to a government report from The Demographics of Military Children and Families.

Thomas Smith (name changed for privacy purposes) said his father experienced some near-death situations while in combat areas as he served over seas.

“My dad likes Coca-Cola and cookies, and one day while in Iraq, he had just finished up dinner and gone outside when he decided he would go back into the cafeteria and get some,” Smith said.

Smith said his father was only about 500 feet from the cafeteria, but he felt the Spirit tell him to not go back inside, so instead he walked all the way to the market to get his treat.

“Once he reached the mini-market, people started bombing the base my dad was at,” Smith said. “He took cover, and then after the bombing, he got up and walked over to help the other soldiers.”

Smith said the cafeteria his dad almost went into had been completely blown up.

“My dad always told me, ‘If I hadn’t listened to the Spirit in that moment, then I wouldn’t be here today,’” Smith said. “He still hasn’t told my mom that story.”

With every active duty military member that is killed, there are an average of 10 people who are significantly impacted, according to the U.S. Department of Defense and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.

“My dad was gone a lot when we were all pretty young,” said Ryan Greene, a junior majoring in international studies. “So he wasn’t there a whole lot of the time to help raise us when we were super young.”

Greene said he remembers a time when his dad was gone for over eight months.

“He was working in Korea, and he came home for a few days which was super cool,” Greene said, “It was like, ‘My dad. I haven’t seen him in a year.’”

Greene said he was sad when his dad left after only a few days, but he gave him a compass before he left.

“I think the compass was for a reason,” Greene said. “I was so young though, I don’t really remember.”

More than 900,000 children have gone through the deployment of at least one parent multiple times, according to Grisolano Center for Neurodevelopment.

“The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it,” said President John F. Kennedy. “And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender or submission.”

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