What Does Veterans Day Mean for You? A Vietnam Veteran Shares His Thoughts

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This Veterans Day, watch this thoughtful and visually stunning video as a means of meditation, a way to reflect on the lives of those who have served this country. To honor those who have left their homes, their families, and their friends to go to foreign lands to fight and — in too many cases — to die in order to preserve this democracy and its freedoms throughout our history. It is our duty to honor and to remember them, for we are the beneficiaries of their unselfish and heroic service and the ultimate sacrifice that so many made in our defense.

If you have the opportunity this Veterans Day to attend memorial services at local cemeteries, or other venues, and have not done so before, I encourage you to do so. It might prove to be a very enlightening experience for you.

They Will…

They are generally simple affairs, but the military ceremony and solemnity you will witness there will give you a sense of the costs those veterans have paid to keep us all safe and free. You will see many veterans there too. They will, of course, be there to honor those that they knew, but they will also be there because they know intimately the costs of war.

They will remember the loss of their dearest friends, those brothers and sisters they fought with on distant battlefields. They will proudly wear their baseball hats with their unit insignia or the wars they served. Most will be older men who, in the long years of their lives, have counted themselves as the lucky ones — those who were able to come home, to marry, to raise families, and to have careers, but who have never forgotten those who fell.

“The military ceremony and solemnity you will witness there will give you a sense of the costs those veterans have paid to keep us all safe and free.”

They will gather in small groups or will be alone. They will nod quietly to one another, sharing their respect, honoring the silence. They will stand at attention at the playing of the National Anthem and while taps is played. Their eyes will be moist for they will be remembering their battles and their lost brothers. If you get a chance and you see a veteran in his baseball cap or an active duty member of the military that day, go up to them and just shake their hands and say a simple thank you.

You will make that veteran’s day.

A young patriot salutes his heroes.

Not from Hatred, but from Love

Those who served understood the price of citizenship more than most. They fought not because they hated those in front of them, but because they loved those who were behind them, back home. They were never the majority of citizens. But they were those who were willing to offer the nation their service, their devotion, and their lives when the call came, so that all others would continue to be able to enjoy the privileges of freedom, peace, and prosperity that this nation offers.

We owe our veterans nothing less than our thanks and our willingness to remember them for what they did on our behalf. Because of those few brave men and women, this country remains a nation of the free. They served in the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marine Corps, and the Coast Guard. Each one did his and her duty and learned the meaning of words like honor, duty, and commitment. They confronted their fears with courage and learned things that most will never learn.

“They fought not because they hated those in front of them, but because they loved those who were behind them.”

They suffered, they endured, they survived, and they overcame. They cared for each other and paid whatever price was required of them. They counted it an honor to serve. Let us remember them this Veterans Day with our presence and our continuing commitment to pay our end of the price to serve them, by providing them with the medical care that they need, and with the educational and employment opportunities they deserve.

It is the least we can do.

11/11

World War I troops cross the silent remains of the heavily bombarded Chateau Wood

The eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month of every year has been set aside to remember our veterans since WWI. The holiday remembers the armistice between the Allied nations and Germany that halted the hostilities of the “Great War” on November 11, 1918. The following November 11th President Wilson proclaimed that day to be the first day of commemoration:

“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it had given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of nations…”

No one desires peace and justice in the councils of nations more than those who have been called to war in defense of the nation and democracy. Our veterans know and have borne the costs these wars. Every veteran fights does so in the hope that this war will be that last and that our children will finally live in a world where the the world will say, in the words of the great Nez Perce leader, Chief Joseph: “[We] will fight no more, forever.” Until then we will have to count on the bravery and the commitment to freedom of those who are willing to answer the call when the need arises.

We here at The Veterans Site send our thanks out to all who have served. We offer our deepest respect to those who gave their all and to their families. God bless our veterans and God bless these United States of America.


Images
1) Young patriot — A young patriot salutes heroes at the 2009 National Memorial Day Concert on the West Lawn of the United States Capitol. (U.S. Army photo by Robert McIver, CC BY 2.0).
2) Soldiers of an Australian 4th Division field artillery brigade on a duckboard track passing through Chateau Wood, near Hooge in the Ypres salient, 29 October 1917. The leading soldier is Gunner James Fulton and the second soldier is Lieutenant Anthony Devine. The men belong to a battery of the 10th Field Artillery Brigade. (Image by Frank Hurley).


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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.