As I’ve said before, the military tradition in my family is not particularly strong. In fact, with a few exceptions, “not particularly strong” is an understatement, to say the least. Although I was very close to joining Big Green right out of high school in the late 1980s, I haven’t served.
Today we honor those that have served in the past and serve today. Without them there would be no America. Without them there would be no freedom. Without them there would be no hope for the future. It’s difficult to comprehend how much better the world is because of American veterans. In times of war and in times of peace, they have done things of such goodness and greatness that words cannot describe the debt we owe them.
I wrote this about those serving today in a comment on Airborne Combat Engineer last May, and I’d like to repeat it here:
These are people who volunteered to go into harm’s way in service to their nation. In service to me and my family, in fact.
Some will die serving me. The fact that they’ll do so making the world a better place for my children means a great deal to me.
Those that serve today and those that served yesterday deserve honor and respect beyond that which I am capable of expressing.
So I’ll just say “thank-you”.
UPDATE: Received from a buddy of mine:
I wanted to take the time (albeit a little late in the day) to send this out to the people I care about to share some of my thoughts this Veteran’s Day, 2005. Too often people of this country can find themselves removed from its history as life’s challenges and daily tasks cloud our vision of how great this country actually is, myself included. A country made great by millions of men and women who have served, are serving or will serve her in the future. I do this not to bring attention to myself, but to simply ask for a quiet moment of remembrance. To ask for this solitary moment in your busy day to think of how your life is made better by those Soldiers, Seaman, Airman and Marines who serve the United States of America.
Today I’ve had some Hershey’s kisses delivered by a co-worker whose husband has served in the military. I’ve had my hand shaken and fielded calls from friends saying thanks. Messages have been sent out via e-mail calling out for remembrance and honor to those whose footsteps have preceded mine. Whose bravery and gallantry in battle defined the very essence of what we in the military sought out when we finally decided join our bothers and sisters in arms. Too, let us not forget the men and women who stood their ground here in the Unites States and were not called to combat, the very fact that they served and stood tall and proud ready to go at a moments notice keeps our enemies at bay.
Whether we asked to be called to service or not, for that matter, whether we served or didn’t serve at all, we need to remember. We need to remember and never forget. We need to remember those who were asked to perform feats of strength and endurance that one could never have imagined being able to handle. We need to remember those who were asked to deal with emotions and hardships that would weaken the knees of even the most hardened of people. We need to remember those who were asked to stand between a free and open society that values life above all else and one where lives of individuals were thought to be expendable at the behest of madmen.
I spent 6 months in the Middle East and came back without so much as a scratch. Out of 1500 in my battalion, one of the largest reserve battalions ever put together…we lost 6 Marines. I attended the memorial service in Iraq for two of them. The pictures you see on the internet or news of the helmets on the rifles as a remembrance for lost brothers and sisters cannot compare if you’ve ever had to physically stand in their presence. I thank God that I made it home to my family and friends unscathed physically but nonetheless, have scars of my own to deal with. Those that make it back without the physical effects that war can cause often times are left to deal with emotional shrapnel. It comes in many forms; from skittishness around others, involuntary reactions to sounds, trouble sleeping or depression. The cost of war truly reaches far beyond dollars and cents and every Veteran’s Day that passes where those who serve are not remembered and are not acknowledged, the farther he or she may pass into obscurity and can be left to question if they made a difference. That, above all, we must never let happen!
This Veteran’s Day I challenge you to seek out a Veteran and shake their hand and say “Thank you.” (You all know me…so find someone else). Nothing more needs to be said. As you shake their hand look into their eyes and try to realize all those eyes have seen…all those eyes have seen and the mind behind that was forced to try to comprehend…seen so that those that they loved would not have to. For that, I would, and have, stood in line to say THANKS!
Semper Fidelis and God Bless,
SGT Meengs, USMC
Operation Iraqi Freedom
My son and some of the Cub Scouts in his pack will be marching in this evening’s Veterans Day parade in downtown Grand Rapids. I will do what I can to make sure what needs to be remembered is remembered.
UPDATE 2: An astounding collection of Veterans Day links at Winds of Change.