Whenever there is a national holiday that honors soldiers or the freedoms we are blessed with (Veterans Day, Memorial Day, the 4th of July) I can't help but get emotional. Both my parents sacrificed so much to be American citizens. World War II was literally happening in my mom's front yard. She and her family were living in Vienna, Austria at the time. Miraculously they were on the Americanized occupied part of Austria after the war was over. That meant that they could attempt to leave the country. Australia, Canada or the USA were available destinations for them. In Austria after the war, there was no food, no jobs and bombed out buildings everywhere. Being members of the church they wanted to go to Salt Lake City in Utah. They came across the ocean on a ship that landed at Ellis Island in New York City. While they were there the prophet at the time said to build up the church in whatever area you are in. My grandma said, "I will follow the prophet and stay here." Since my grandfather was a farmer and in order for him to work on a farm they eventually ended up in New Jersey (45 minutes from the city). Then my mom met my dad at a German dance club in New Jersey. He came over to live with relatives that were already in America. And that's how I came to be a Jersey girl!
My mom says that the first time she had a piece of gum it was from an American soldier when she was a girl in Vienna. Being able to enjoy the blessings of true freedom by living in the United States of America are deeply felt by me and members of my family. I will always feel a special gratitude to any and all veterans who have served this great country of ours. God bless the USA!