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‘NEGU’

Posted: April 10, 2014 2:38 p.m.
Updated: April 11, 2014 5:00 a.m.

Life requires courage. Courage doesn’t always roar like a lion. Sometimes courage is a quiet voice, unassuming in all its resilience and fortitude, the gentle giant among us, the self-effacing titan in our presence. Remember the line, or was it a show on television -- “kids say the darndest things?” For the moment, I’m going to change it to say, “Kids do insanely courageous things.” I always find it an amazing occurrence when certain people or groups of people are put in our paths. They dissect our “straight” lines for reasons often unknown to us. Most of us just hope to have our hearts and minds open enough to see their motives in our lives.

Recently, I have been affected and positively influenced by two groups of children, both, in my opinion and as many may agree, on opposite ends of the spectrum. Though in retrospect, perhaps these groups are actually more similar than I realize. I am often astounded at the ability some children possess to do something they know will be difficult. It’s their strength of mind to carry on in spite of a tough situation. And a product of this courage, this fortitude is their unyielding resilience, their capacity to become strong and recover from or adjust to misfortune or change. I am referring to the bravery and fearlessness of kids fighting cancer and the children of our servicemen and women.

It’s as if these kids are made up of a different kind of tough. They are placed in situations that require a certain backbone, a particular fortitude. April happens to be the Month of the Military Child with this year’s theme of “Young Lives, Big Stories.” The official military brat flower (I know -- who knew!) is the dandelion and actually describes perfectly our military kids along with the sacrifices they make. A dandelion’s seeds can be scattered by the wind and put down its roots anywhere. The dandelion adapts to life among other plants and can survive in just about any location.

There are currently more than 2 million American military children. We take the sacrifices military kids make for granted much of the time. Parent deployments, frequent moves, a new school every few years, a constant rotation of friends, and most of all, the threat of a parent being killed in combat are all situations a military child has to encounter. We can all learn a sense of service and purpose from these kids and it is vital we recognize the real heroes in our midst, rather than those who get excessive media attention for all the wrong reasons. Only a small portion of our populace chooses to serve, and their families, their children deserve our gratitude for sharing the burden.

NEGU, which stands for “Never Ever Give Up,” is inspiring to many children fighting the battle with cancer. Childhood cancer -- two words that should never go together but, unfortunately, they do. Approximately 14,000 kids between birth and the age of 19 will be diagnosed with cancer each year. There is no scientific explanation for childhood cancer. The word “cancer” strikes absolute fear in people. It’s an awful, scary, unaccepting illness.

I am watching very close to home a young girl of only 10 years battle the disease. I see the definition of courage and resilience play out before me and the other 10-year-olds in her class. I see the twinkle in her eyes, wanting so to chase her classmates at recess only to then race to the water fountain, hot, sweaty … happy. I see the worry in my daughter’s face as she gives me the daily “wellness” report of her sick friend. To these 10-year-olds, recovery is the only known outcome. For now, this will be sufficient. Watching this little girl fight the battle of her life is a constant lesson in perspective for all around her. She is fighting with remarkable strength and bravery.

There is no material on earth as resilient as the human spirit. These kids, these unassuming heroes have crossed my path and we must let them know we see them, we hear them, we support them. Courage, above all things, is the first quality of a warrior.

March onward young warriors. We are behind you every step of the way.

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