THE CASUAL OBSERVER: Answering a Call to Service


On Thursday, amid the fireworks, cook outs and assorted other holiday fun, this nation celebrated the anniversary of its founding. Several homes in Plymouth were draped with red, white and blue and I saw several US flags hanging outside.

Later, on my Facebook page, a friend of mine posted a gentle reminder that the freedoms we take for granted are not free. They come with a price, and it is a price many times paid for by the blood sacrifice of those called to serve their nation in the armed forces.

Every day I get to exercise my right to a free press; I speak out without fear of being persecuted; and I worship as I please, without worry that I will be punished for my faith. I don’t always remember to thank a veteran, and I should. Not everyone can step up and suit out in defense of this nation. I am glad there are still those who put the benefit of others ahead of their own safety.

So what can I do if I cannot be a warrior? How can a person contribute to the ideals of freedom without serving in the military? What makes a good citizen?

There are many ways people can show their appreciation and dedication to this nation’s founding principles. One way is to support the men and women serving in the armed forces. While we may not always agree with our government’s decision to go to war or send American troops into foreign lands, we have to appreciate each service person’s willingness to go.

Another way is to make a difference in our communities. I believe in volunteering. I think it is a way to pay back the things we take for granted. For example, the Encore Performing Arts’ Music in the Park series is under way with Friday night’s performance by the Indiana 38th Infantry Band. Many people came out to take in the free performance and carry their July 4th patriotism a little farther into the weekend.

It takes volunteers to get ready for these performances, from cleaning the Young Amphitheater, to helping make sure things run smoothly. Serving on the board, lining up the entertainment, selling and collecting tickets are some of the ways non-paid people help out.
This is just one organization. There are many, many more who could use help.

I was a Girl Scout Leader for 8 years. I also helped organize and lead a 4-H Horse Club. The newspaper that was my home base for 13 years sponsored the annual Christmas parade and I spent the first (or sometimes second) Saturday in December helping with the parade line up, float judging and other assorted tasks.

Pay? There was none. But I was vastly rewarded by these efforts. A hug from a troubled girl I was able to reach through Girl Scouts, the look of delight on a child’s face who could spend some time with horses through my involvement with 4-H, and the seasonal joy of bringing a community together to celebrate a magical time of year was more than enough compensation.

Too often it is too easy to sit back and let someone else step up. Sometimes, we don’t know if we have the right talent, skills, abilities, etc. to make a difference. All you can do is ask to help and be willing to climb out of the comfort zone.

Life is tough. Volunteering in the community or with a worthy cause helps make the road a little easier. It lifts the spirit. There is an inner satisfaction that makes the everyday obstacles a little easier to bear.

After all, you get back what you give.

Lois Tomaszewski is managing editor at The Pilot News Group. This column ran in the July 6 edition of The Pilot News.)