This Veterans Day I stayed home, turned off the news, didn't read the newspaper or any articles online about it. I didn't want to hear about the Ft Hood tragedy or the soldiers overseas.
You see I am a U.S. Army Veteran. This is not a "happy" day for me. It is a day of remembrance for those who put their lives on the line or sacrificed themselves for this country. I'd like to believe that America today is as patriotic as it was during WWI and WWII. I fear that it is not. This country has taken the very laws that were put in place to protect the innocent and instead free the criminal. This country is outraged that terrorists would get on a plane and reek havoc amongst America and demand that something be done only to condemn the ones who stood up and did something. Our own president will give shout outs to his buddies before acknowledging that a great tragedy had befallen our nation on our own soil and say that we must take our time and examine the facts before proclaiming that a Muslim soldier more than likely killed people b/c of his faith and then stand before us a day later and say we must take quick action against the shooter who killed six people in Florida.
There is no greater bond in my life than of that with my fellow soldier. If you haven't served, then you may not understand. They give and they give and they give and they ask nothing in return except that you pass it on. I have witnessed countless acts of selflessness in all my days as a soldier. From all walks of life, in every race, color, religion they have decided to volunteer to protect unknown people, unknown places and sometimes even for unknown reasons, this great country we live in.
Anyone who doesn't think that we live in by far, the best country in the world, go visit another country. Any country. Read up on their laws. Let's say you are a woman, see how the courts would fare say in a custody hearing. Or with child support. See what the taxes are to buy a car, or to own a home. Go see if you have the right and freedom to express yourself in protest. I went to Albania on a peacekeeping mission in 1996. The women got up early every morning and walked out into the fields and worked all day while their husbands sat on the porch and visited and played chess and cards all day. The women had to take their children with them into the fields. I went to Rwanda and lets just say you don't quite have the right to worship in the way you'd like or even the religion you believe in for that matter.
But our soldiers, be it Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines, come together in unity. They will tell you "we are all green". I have heard soldiers say they didn't believe in God and yet never hesitated to bow their heads and pray along with the rest right before a mission. I have lost friends in the Army. Some from natural causes, some from accidents and some from combat and it never gets easier. It doesn't ease my mind or my pain that I know that we volunteered for it, we know that there is a great chance we might die, we prepare for it by doing our wills yearly, ensuring that our beneficiaries are correct, telling our families and spouses what we want to happen if we die (at the age of 18, 20, 23......you get the picture).
So on this Veterans Day I chose to privately email everyone of my friends who have served or is serving now and tell them it was an honor to know them and to serve our country alongside of them. I chose to talk to a military veterans group I belong to and share stories of those who didn't make it.
Don't wait for Memorial Day to remember the fallen, don't wait until Veterans Day to thank those who have served, don't look at it as a day off (because let's face it, the Army peeps mostly have to work on these days anyway!), just don't wait to tell someone in the military that you thank them for their courage to serve and protect and to give up some of their own freedoms to provide for this country.
Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.” – President Ronald Reagan
War is an ugly thing but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made so and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. --John Stuart Mill