Posts Tagged ‘Veteran’s Day’

I have never been comfortable saying Happy Veterans Day, “Thank you for your service” has always seemed a more appropriate sentiment.  I do recognize and appreciate the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day; one memoralizes our loss, the other acknowledges our service.  This service and the sacrifices that come along with it are why I have never been comfortable giving thanks on this day.

I understand the sentiment and take no offense at receiving it.  This is especially true when it comes from those who have not served.  It is indeed the sentiment and the appreciation that counts, and, I at least, accept it for what it is.

All of us are taught right from the beginning about Duty, Honor, Sacrifice, Service and all those other terms the Drill Sergeants begin to verbally assault us with in Basic.  Indeed, that is what Basic is all about; stripping us down, peeling away the individuality and bad habits, and then building us back up into trained individuals functioning together as a part of a team, which in turn is part of some bigger and greater than itself.

We all have our own reasons for putting ourselves through the suck and volunteering for service.  Some of us are legacies, like LT Dan of Forrest Gump fame, members of our families have given it their all in every war our country has ever fought in. I myself, had both of my grandfathers serve, my father, both uncles on my mom’s side, a bunch of cousins as well.  I did not serve, initially anyway, because of this legacy, I did it for reasons strictly personal and selfish.  I went in with eyes wide open, looking to give my all, but that was more to do with paying my way for the benefits available, rather than a sense of blind patriotism or valor.

As I grew into what would turn in to a career, a lot of that changed.  I learned what it meant to belong, to be a part of something greater than myself.  I was fortunate that I had awesome mentors and leaders right from the beginning who helped put a slacker onto the path that would lead me to working at the very tip of the spear with people who would give the Spartans someone to fear and emulate. I was able to work with professionals, doing work that prior, I had only read about or watched on dramatized T.V.  I was privileged to befriend people, some of whom would pay the ultimate sacrifice, people who understood brotherhood and sacrifice.  Men and women who never think of themselves as brave, but continue to master the basics in order to prevail over the obstacles placed in front of them.

It is because of people like these that I have never been comfortable wishing a veteran a “Happy” day.  I do not judge or cast aspersions on anyone who does though.  It is a great honor to live in a country which recognizes us with our own special day.  For many though it is not a happy day.  Many who have seen the most extreme of horrors which war can produce are thankful to still be here, but suffer the guilt of doing so.  Gunshots are deliberate but the bullets are indiscriminate.  Why did I survive when the person next to me did not? How did I make it out of a blast zone unscathed when those around me were maimed or killed?  Was it all worth it in the end?

I will not speak for all Veterans, just for myself.  Today is our day, and I truly appreciate the recognition.  Along with the pride that comes with that recognition is a healthy measure of solemnity and a little bit of guilt.  I grew up in an era of war in which there are no lines of opposition.  The enemy is ruthless and we no longer fight to conquer and vanquish them.  We lose our friends in actions in which the objective is to preserve life but not to destroy the enemy who is creating those circumstances.  American Service Members do in other nations what those nations cannot or will not do for their own people.  That is our calling, our service. and we bear the burdens of this profession for the remainder of our lives.  I thank you for the recognition of my service, especially this solemn day.  To my Brothers and Sisters, past, present and future, Thank You for your Service and Sacrifice.

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Today we remember those who came before us, who laid down their lives, suffered at the hands of our enemies, became permanently scarred, physically and psychologically, and lived the history of our nation.  Brave men and women have given their all in pursuit of the freedoms we hold dear, or, choose to take for granted; for that is our right as Americans, to choose.  For that we have our veterans to thank.

It is your choice, your freedom, you inalienable right to be an American as you see fit.  That choice is granted by the sacrifice in blood, pain, tears, and loss of those who run to the sounds of battle while others choose to stay away.  We serve at your leisure but that leisure is only available through the actions of others.  Freedom does not live in a vacuum; each and every day someone pays the cost for it and it is with their dying breath that millions more get to live the life they choose.

Veterans do so with a clarity of vision for vaguely defined strategic objectives.  Decisions are made and acted upon that have impacts far beyond the battlefield in which they are enacted.  Heroes come at unexpected times, immortalized at the moment of their action.  Most often they are eulogized and memorialized.

Today we remember.  Those of us who have known the loss first hand remember our comrades at arms who have paid the ultimate price.  Today is the most somber of veterans remembrance days during the year.  When it was Armistice Day, it was intended to be.  It is not a day of celebrating, it is a day of remembrance and reflection.  It is a day to wear the buddy poppy in remembrance of someone you knew who served or in recognition of a nameless individual who sacrificed their all so that you can have what you do.

I am rapidly closing in on 20 years of service.  It has not always been easy, fun, or even at times, something I wanted to do.  My family has paid as much of a price if not more so than I.  As I close out my time I hope that I have enough for them.  I admire the respect they show during the National Anthem, memorial services, and to other veterans and their families and I know, deep in my heart that this is what I have served for all these years.  The personal challenges and sacrifices are great obstacles to overcome and achievements to acknowledge for my own self-interests, but it is seeing the pride my my children’s eyes when they speak of what I do and it is in having the most loving, supporting Army wife possible.

The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month has passed.  Gone is the Day.  If not the person, remember the sacrifice.

As we come up on Veteran’s Day this weekend, I wanted to get out some information on an organization that specifically tries to acknowledge the resting places for our fallen warriors.  Wreaths Across America is the national organization that collects donations that go to purchasing wreaths to decorate graves at Arlington National Cemetery.  The organization has chapters and ambassadors in all 50 states and for cemeteries abroad that are dedicated to the fallen.  Just $15 will guarantee that a wreath will be purchased and laid on a veterans grave.  You can visit the national organizations site and donate or one of the collection sites that each of the ambassadors have for state by state collections.

Jennifer Adcock is the North Carolina ambassador and works tirelessly for military in the NC community.  Her site at Remember the Fallen.  From Jennifer’s site you can get statistics on how much has been raised and by whom, compare what other states are contributing to the cause and other information about the parent organization and other fundraisers that they do.  Thanks to her efforts Jennifer has been selected as one of the readers of the names to honor the 25th anniversary of the Viet Nam Veterans Memorial Wall, one of the names she will be reading is of a relative of hers who was killed in action in Viet Nam.

You can make an individual donation, a family donation or a corporate donation and have a hand in insuring our veterans who gave their lives are recognized  with a wreath.  Anyone who is interested in volunteering in other ways can contact jennifer through her site or visit the national site and see in which way you can lend a hand.

Please remember this Sunday, the 11th is Veteran’s Day.  The national time of recognition is at the 11th hour, on the 11th day of the 11th month.  Taps will be blown and the flag will be at half-mast in honor of.  Please remember to take a moment and think of those who have given so much including the families forever affected by the loss of their loved one in defense of the nation.