Every now and then, I think about how different our lives might be without the sacrifices and successes of our military.
Would this still be the land of the free and the home of the brave? Would we be a democratic society guided and governed by a Bill of Rights? Would there be such a thing as the American dream?
Would I have had the opportunity to become a professional fisherman? Would any of us be able to enjoy what we know as the great outdoors?
We owe our men and women in the armed services a tremendous debt of gratitude. And just as it took an Army, a Navy, a Marine Corps, an Air Force and a National Guard to establish and protect the freedoms we enjoy in this country, we can be an army of outdoor lovers who show our gratitude and appreciation.
Here are many ways we can serve our country in a small way by giving a little bit back to the men and women who have put their lives on the line for all of us.
A simple thank you goes a long way. When we cross paths with people in military fatigues or with veterans of past conflicts, take the time to let them know that their service is appreciated and they are the reason we live in the greatest country in the world.
Take a vet fishing. You can extend an invitation on a one-on-one basis, but you can make an even greater impact by organizing a group outing. Recruit a few of your buddies with boats and contact one of the organizations dedicated to our military veterans like Trolling for the Troops or the Wounded Warrior Project to help you organize a fishing event.
Donate some fishing equipment to your local veterans organizations. By contributing a rod and reel or a tackle box filled with tackle, you might provide the means to an activity that can make a difference in a veteran's life.
In some cases, you might be able to teach them some basic tackle-crafting that will give them a hobby they'll truly enjoy.
Spend some time visiting your local veteran's home. You don't have to give a traditional fishing seminar, but you can share a few stories and give them the opportunity to tell you a story or two. In many cases, you can take an aging veteran fishing without them having to leave their rocking chair or wheelchair.
Think about it and you will probably come up with a dozen more ways to thank our military heroes. Give a little something back. It's the American way.