Tuesday, November 13, 2007

SALUTE TO OUR VETERANS

Sunday was Veteran’s Day although it was observed yesterday. And yesterday, we had the wonderful Syrie James as our guest in the convertible. We have several veterans in our family and I’m proud and grateful to each one of them for their service. In honor of all who have served and of all who are currently serving I want to sharing the following tribute. It may be a day late, but it doesn’t negate the importance of recognizing their sacrifices.

WHAT IS A VETERAN?

Some veterans bear visible signs of their service: a missing limb, a jagged scar, a certain look in the eye.

Others may carry the evidence inside them: a pin holding a bone together, a piece of shrapnel in the leg - or perhaps another sort of inner steel: the soul's ally forged in the refinery of adversity.

Except in parades, however, the men and women who have kept America safe
wear no badge or emblem. You can't tell a vet just by looking.

He is the cop on the beat or a fireman who spent six months in Saudi Arabia
sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carriers didn't
run out of fuel.

He is the barroom loudmouth, dumber than five wooden planks, whose overgrown
frat-boy behavior is outweighed a hundred times in the cosmic scales by four
hours of exquisite bravery near the 38th parallel.

She - or he - is the nurse who fought against futility and went to sleep
sobbing every night for two solid years in Da Nang. He is the POW who went away one person and came back another - or didn't come back AT ALL.

He is the Quantico drill instructor who has never seen combat - but has
saved countless lives by turning slouchy, no-account rednecks and gang
members into Marines, and teaching them to watch each other's backs.

He is the parade - riding Legionnaire who pins on his ribbons and medals
with a prosthetic hand. He is the career quartermaster who watches the ribbons and medals pass him by.

He is the three anonymous heroes in The Tomb Of The Unknowns, whose presence
at the Arlington National Cemetery must forever preserve the memory of all
the anonymous heroes whose valor dies unrecognized with them on the
battlefield or in the ocean's sunless deep.

He is the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket - palsied now and
aggravatingly slow - who helped liberate a Nazi death camp and who wishes
all day long that his wife were still alive to hold him when the nightmares
come.

He is an ordinary and yet an extraordinary human being - a person who
offered some of his life's most vital years in the service of his country,
and who sacrificed his ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice
theirs.

He is a soldier and a savior and a sword against the darkness, and he is
nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the finest,
greatest nation ever known.

So remember, each time you see someone who has served our country, just lean
over and say Thank You. That's all most people need, and in most cases it
will mean more than any medals they could have been awarded or were awarded.

Two little words that mean a lot, "THANK YOU".

"It is the soldier, not the reporter, Who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the soldier, not the poet, Who has given us freedom of speech. It is
the soldier, not the campus organizer, Who has given us the freedom to
demonstrate. It is the soldier, Who salutes the flag, Who serves beneath the
flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protestor to
burn the flag."

Father Denis Edward O'Brien/USMC

I hope these words touch you as much as it touched me.

Cindy

10 comments:

Helen Brenna said...

Thanks, Cindy.

Vanessa said...

As much as I hate this awful war, I support our men and women in uniform 100%. They didn't start it; they're just doing their jobs as best they can. Let's hope we can get them out of that unwinnable hell hole soon.

Great post.

Betina Krahn said...

Cindy, thanks so much for taking the time to help us recall the service and sacrifice of those who've served in our armed forces and who protect us and our way of life.

My dad was a WWII vet-- the South Pacific-- and never talked about his experiences when I was growing up. Interestingly, he began to open up in the last 7-10 years of his life. We learned a great deal and began to understand more of what he and Mom went through. Most importantly, we realized that my dad worked hard not to pass along the prejudices and anger he'd learned in his time in the jungles of New Guinea. He focused strongly on love and on respect for all people and worked hard to see that his children and the young people he helped as a school counselor learned the lesson of respect.

I know that when he returned from overseas, he was 6'4" and weighed 140 pounds. He looked almost like a concentration camp survivor. He'd had malaria, dengue, and yellow fever while overseas. He nearly died of those illnesses. . . but so did many of his buddies. He was malnourished and had "jungle rot," and had gotten busted from sergeant to buck private once because one of his men was found sleeping on sentry duty.

He told us stories of the men who got pictures of their pregnant wives. . . when they'd been away for 18 months. He said they all just put their arms around the guy and said "congratulations, man"-- while not quite able to meet each other's eyes. Their hearts broke, their health was ruined, a few of them went truly crazy. . . and still they guarded and maintained that vital airstrip in the jungle.

And he carried all that within him for 50 years. . . unspoken.

It breaks my heart to think of so many young men having to experience the same things today, half a world away.

What have we learned? Will they be stronger for it, like my dad seemed to be, or will they bend under the memories until they break?

We have a lot to answer for.

Debra Dixon said...

One grandfather and my father-in-law were veterans. They didn't/don't talk about their service, which says something about the nature of the experience.

I know it's a job I couldn't do. I'm not so good with the bind obedience and you can't have two captains in the foxhole!

I admire the folks who can believe in our country and do the job. I'm grateful for them. T feel safer knowing we have those fine folks on our side.

Wish they were home though, for lots of reasons including my opposition to the war.

Cindy Gerard said...

One of my brother in laws is a Vietnam Vet. He struggles to this day with his experiences there. I make a special point to contact him on Veterans Day as he was among those who did not experience the type of support our military personal receive today. We owe them all so much.

flchen1 said...

Thank you, Cindy. What a good reminder of the people who sacrifice for the rest of us.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Thanks so much, Cindy. Your description of the veteran is perfect.

I disagree to some extent with Fr. Denis. The soldier defends the rights that we as a people claim to be inalienable, but he hasn't given them to us. Without all the others mentioned plus millions of others who have never worn a uniform but who defend the Constitution in other ways, up to and including voting, paying attention and making it their business to understand what the Constitution means, speaking up and speaking out, there would be no United States of America. We The People must understand that it's in our hands, this fragile thing called freedom. Armed with nothing but our intellect, we defend it. If we take government of, by, and for the people for granted, it will perish.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Oh, and I'm a military brat. Long line of soldier forebears. Lots of relatives--including parents and grandparents--buried at Arlington. Daddy was a WWII vet and career officer, brother Vietnam vet, husband a vet during that era but stationed in Korea. And on Clyde's side we boast many many soldiers.

I was opposed to the Vietnam War, and I've been opposed to this one since Day One. One thing I'm really opposed to is military privatization ("contractors"). I think it's extremely dangerous. This is just one of those things we the people need to pay attention to. What happens when mercenaries replace the citizen or voluntary army? What happens when you allow a for-profit military to grow like Topsy? Who do they answer to? Not for God and Country, but for Cash and Corporation.

Oh, dear. I got started, didn't I? I am so proud of the American soldier. Many of the characters in my books have been veterans. It's one small way I can honor them.

Cindy Gerard said...

Hey Kathy
Point well taken and I couldn't agree with you more that it takes many voices to protect or democracy and we must never be complacent about our liberties. I see his comments, however, running in tandem with yours as our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines are the front line defense to insure our precious freedom.

Christie Ridgway said...

My dad and f-i-l are both vets. Thanks for your post, Cindy.