“Those things which are precious are saved only by sacrifice.”
Private First Class David Kenyon Webster
One of the first recipients of the Purple Heart
The Purple Heart was created in 1782 by George Washington to recognize those soldiers killed or wounded in action or for suffering as a prisoner of war. It symbolizes the sacrifice made by countless men and women throughout our history. The above quote resonated closely with me as I thought about my own experiences in the First Gulf War and how terribly hard it was to leave my family, not knowing what would happen or when I would return home. The day I left Ft. Campbell, KY for Saudi Arabia was the hardest day of my life. I openly wept as I said good- bye to my wife and three sons, ages 8, 5, and 2.
Sacrifice can look differently to people. Olympic athletes sacrificially dedicate years preparing themselves to compete at the highest level. The sacrifices made by the “Greatest Generation” should humble us all. They survived the Great Depression only to fight a devastating war that took them far away, most for several years, while their families sacrificially held down the home front and waited anxiously. Close to 500,000 did not return.
My father served two combat tours in Vietnam while my mother did the best she could to raise my brothers, sister, and me. Every night, with TV trays in place, we watched the evening news hoping to get a glimpse of my father as days-old film footage of the escalating combat flashed before us. Every ring of the phone brought fear to my mother in a way I will never forget, though I was only 10 years old. A phone call, too often, brought the worst of news, the ultimate sacrifice given, again. My mother sacrificed the most.
Each of you know sacrifice intimately. Years of demanding study and more years of arduous training has made it all too familiar. You have sacrificed time, resources, marriage, and family to get where you are today. Thank you for the sacrifices you have made in the past and continue to make daily in the service of others. I thank you, our community thanks you, and most importantly, our patients thank you. Always remember that what you do is important; what you do makes a difference every day; and what you do is still a privilege. You are our “most precious” resource. Your sacrifices have been worth it!
Andy Lamb, MD