Jim Braaten

Jim Braaten lives near Kenyon, Minn., and has been an avid outdoorsman for more than 35 years. He lives on the family farm that was first settled by his ancestors 152 years ago. He has been an outdoors writer and photographer, and he owns a business producing and marketing calendars.

Enjoy the outdoors? Be sure to thank a soldier.

Posted by: Jim Braaten Updated: May 27, 2010 - 11:40 AM

In this blog posting there won’t be any useful advice on how to put more fish in the livewell. For that matter there won’t be any interesting hunting tales shared, either. And while those topics are both important on these Club Outdoors pages…perhaps we all need to take pause for a moment and count our blessings for what makes our beloved outdoor pastimes even possible.

This past January I was in line at the Las Vegas Airport waiting to get screened when my wife noticed that directly ahead of us was a movie star. Turned out, Donald Sutherland, was waiting his turn to go through the TSA process hoping, I’m sure, that nobody would notice him. Hiding behind the dark glasses and floppy hat was a man well-accomplished in the TV and film industry during the past 50 years.

Some folks would have been in awe and clamored to get his autograph. Nope, not me…I recognized his desire to travel unnoticed and gave him the respect he apparently so desired.

In contrast, three weeks ago I was traveling home through the Norfolk, Virginia airport and directly behind me were two soldiers dressed in fatigues. They were happy, proud and full of energy. I couldn’t help but notice them. As we were waiting, I turned to them and offered them my gratitude for all they are doing through their service to this country. In a very humble manner, they informed me how the people I should be thanking were their fellow soldiers with whom they were headed to meet. Seems they were coming home on that day after their 4th tour of duty in Iraq.

As I boarded the plane home I thought about the many people I have met in my life over the years who have all helped make this country great. The true heroes and stars live among us in everyday life. They could be parents, siblings, cousins, neighbors or even strangers…but if they’ve ever donned the uniform representing the United States they deserve our deep respect and complete appreciation.

While in Norfolk I got to meet several former Navy Seals who epitomized in my mind what service to this country means. Each had spent 20+ years of distinguished service performing some of the most hero-like missions you could ever imagine. Of course, now they were just regular guys going through life working for a company in the outdoors industry during their retirement. Modest, humble, unassuming…just ordinary guys who used to do some extraordinary things for our country to keep it safe and free.

During this Memorial Day weekend I hope each of you will take some time to reflect on the sacrifices others have given to enable the lifestyle we all cherish. Freedom comes at a great price and many have paid the ultimate sacrifice so that we can live our lives the way we want to — hunting, fishing, camping, etc.

And while we’re at it…let’s not forget the fine service our police, fire and emergency medical services provide to our communities. They might not be on the frontlines fighting the war on terror, but nevertheless the services they provide are just as essential.

This weekend especially, let’s make it a point to shake the hand and say “thank you” to every veteran(active or retired), police officer, firefighter and EMT that we meet. Let them know we care and appreciate their efforts. After all, the outdoors would be a much different place without their dedicated service to our community and our country.

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