Veterans Day 2011

Words seem so inadequate when you are trying to thank someone for choosing to join the United States armed forces. That choice, often made at the ripe old age of 17 or 18, changes the fundamental being of the one making that choice. A child enters the service and in only a few short weeks is transformed into a confident and capable adult. An adult who will now belong to the branch of the armed forces they chose at enlistment time. Their own freedoms will be put on hold for 3 or 4 years while they serve their country. Their country, by the way, is you and me. They serve to protect our freedoms and keep our land safe from foreign invasion. We are not speaking German today in the U.S.A. because of the soldiers, sailors, marines and fly-boys who won WW II.

Today like every day of my life, I implore you to thank a Veteran. I ask you to smile when you see someone in uniform. I would suggest you buy a Vet or an active service person a cup of coffee, a beer, a lunch or their dinner. Do something to show your appreciation. Then think about what that person has done for you. Really think about it. And say, “Thank you.”

For the entire length of that enlistment period he or she did not have the freedoms we enjoy every day. They were not allowed to just come and go at their leisure. Sometimes they were on duty 24 hours or at the very least on alert, ready to spring into action as needed. Their 9-5 job might have taken them out of this country to foreign borders that needed guarding or foreign soil that needed liberating from tyranny. They may have suffered a visible or invisible wound. Their nights may still, many years after their discharge, be filled with nightmares and memories too horrible to share and to raw to forget. The very person they once were has been transformed into a new and not always better, but stronger one. The remainder of their life they will carry their service years with them. Some memories will haunt them always. Some will bring a smile to their minds immediately.

One thing they all share. They all deserve our respect and our gratitude. They all deserve to be recognized daily for their sacrifices and their honorable duty. You and I are the ones who need to do this recognizing and thanking and respecting.

On this Veterans Day 2011, may I humbly and sincerely extend my utmost gratitude to each and every one of you who have given a part of your life so that people like me can write or say whatever needs to be written or said. May each of you walk with pride and honor among those of us you protected. I know that many who have served gave more than others and I also know that ALL who served gave more than I.

God bless our Veterans and all of us who live in their debt.

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