It’s so easy to shield our youth from the horrors of what it means to be at war, to let them believe that it is a thing that doesn't actually touch American soil. So telling children what those boots represent might seem odd to some because we want our youth to be innocent and carefree.
But then what becomes of those who gave all? That is why I told my children what the boots mean. They aren’t just old ratty boots someone didn’t want. They are people who put themselves on the line for us and our freedoms.
As I drove home with my children after school I told them they were going to see something special. With excitement they asked me what it was, but I told them it had to be a surprise because it was more special that way. So, being children they let it go and went on with their normal chatter.
Then we came to the gate, and my older son, who was sitting in the front seat, looked at me and said, “Is that the surprise?”
What he saw was the Ford Island Bridge, Hawaii and streets lined with approximately 7,000 boots.
As I went on to tell them that it is our responsibility as the living to honor the fallen, to run or walk for them because they can’t. Because their families deserve to have their memory kept alive.
My older son said to me, “The girl who sits next to me lost her dad. He is one of the boots.” I knew in that moment he understood what the boots are for.
War means we might lose the people we love most. They are fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, sons and daughters. As parents we should teach this to our children growing up in a post-9/11 era.
Being part of the Tripler Fisher House Hero and Remembrance Run isn't about us, the living, it’s about those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. It’s about ensuring they aren't forgotten and that the children growing up in this new reality never forget either.
Our military community in Hawaii comes together each year to honor our fallen heroes. They donate to the cause so willingly in so many ways it will make you speechless. They bring their children, too, teaching them what the boots mean.
If you are in a community, such as Fort Campbell, Ky. putting on a Hero and Remembrance Run and Walk please be a part of it in anyway you can. Most importantly, teach your children what the boots mean so that they, too, will carry on the memory of our brave men and women.
Editor's note: Would you like to contribute to a memorial like the one Kate writes about above? Fort Campbell, Ky. needs your used boots! Get more information, including a mailing address, here. Please include a note saying you are contributing as part of 1-327's boot drive.
Kate authors the blog Tips From The Homefront where she shares tips and resources on all things related to military life. She and her husband have been married for over 10 years and have two boys. Together they have been to four duty stations and survived multiple deployments and TDYs. She continues to serve command families as an Ombudsman as well as being a Chapter Coordinator for Stroller Warriors. Kate’s life mission is to ensure that all military families are empowered to live the best life possible while serving in the military through connecting them with the resources and entitlements they need and deserve.
Photos courtesy of Facebook and Kate.