All who know me also know that I love the Toastmasters club of which my dad and I are a part. Not only is it a safe laboratory in which to challenge myself as a public speaker and communicator, but also so often I walk out of our meetings with the joy of connection—connection to my colleagues, connection to ideas larger than myself, connection to a broader sense of the world and the people in it.

In addition to our three impromptu speeches today, we had two prepared speeches. One was presented by one of our newer members, Tara Fall. I read Tara’s blog, and I enjoy Tara’s unique perspective—one of joy and optimism—as much as I enjoy her speeches at our meetings.

Today she spoke about teaching her daughters to say “See you later” to their father when he leaves for military duty. Tara’s husband is an officer in the United States Navy and has had several tours of duty in the last few years. She spoke of the ways in which she helps her daughters transition between his shore time and his time away, and it was clear to me that she gives them the strength to see his departures and his homecoming with equal hope and enthusiasm. She is a great mom.

What stayed with me most, however, was not something she spoke about. Listening to her and watching her and thinking about her children, I remembered that it is not only our military troops that serve our country—their families do, too. The spouses and children remaining on shore share in the honor of those they send. I am profoundly thankful for the wives and husbands and children—as well as our servicemen and women—who carry part of the responsibility for the welfare of democracy and freedom as part of their daily lives.

Thank you, Tara, for reminding me of all the people who help to ensure my freedom, and the freedom of my children. You are an amazing force of love, strength, and optimism—and also a compelling speaker. Hearing you speak was incredible today, and I thought your prize ribbon was well-deserved.

Let us gather our joy in truly listening to the voices of others.

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