Initially, I want to make clear that this letter is meant for everyone. In this political time, everything becomes Republican versus Democrat, and the underlying messages get lost in “us versus them.” I don’t care if you are a Democrat or a Republican. When I was a child, I was taught that whom you voted for was a private matter. This letter isn’t aimed at one political party, and it isn’t meant to tell you what to do. This letter is meant to make you think.

Recently, some were outraged by the so-called “war” on Christmas by Starbucks because they changed their holiday cup design. By trivializing the term “war,” the term loses its real meaning and minimizes the hardship suffered by those who have actually been involved in a war. Let me remind you of what the word “war” means. War means sacrifice – real sacrifice, not whether or not a business chooses to honor one religion’s winter celebration on a piece of paper that will just get thrown away. War means that soldiers answered the call. It means that some of those soldiers were forever maimed and scarred, and some paid the ultimate price. Has anyone died or been physically injured over the design of the Starbucks cup? No.

If you ask those who lived during World War II what it was like to live in the United States during that period, they will tell you about sacrifice. The same can be said of those immigrants who come to the United States from war-torn countries hoping for a better life. They all know the horrors of war and what it’s like to be at war. Know that when you over-use the term “war” to mean a difference of opinion, you diminish the meaning of the word “war.”

The world is a dangerous place, filled with those who would do us harm. This country currently is engaged in a real war thousands of miles away from your local Starbucks. Every day, soldiers are put in harm’s way so that we may continue to enjoy that cup of Starbucks at home. They are fighting this war because they took an oath to serve, protect and defend. Soldiers, veterans, and their families have all made, and will continue to make sacrifices for the rest of us. Some soldiers and veterans have visible scars, while others have returned home facing unimaginable scars that are not visible to the naked eye. They come home and try to adjust to living back home after witnessing so many atrocities, but they will never be the same people. They and their families have paid a price. Those are the real costs of war.

Today, I ask you to thank those who have served, remember what they fought for, and be aware that it minimizes their sacrifice to make everything a “war.” What those soldiers fought for are a love of country that we share and the rights protected by the Constitution. One of those valuable rights is the First Amendment right to express an opinion, and to disagree with those expressing different opinions. That precious right is not lessened by calling it what it is: a dialog, a discussion, an argument; it does not need to be elevated to a war to be meaningful. I ask you to recognize our First Amendment rights for what they are, and leave the horrors of war to real war.

Finally, I urge you to T.H.I.N.K. before speaking or posting something online.
T: Is it True?
H: Is it Helpful?
I: Is it Inspiring?
N: Is it Necessary?
K: Is it Kind?

Thank you for reading.