I “Googled” Veterans Day and the response? Results – about 275,000,000 on the top of the page. Wow, if you want to know about veterans and Veterans Day, the internet is literally filled with facts and figures and stories beyond the limits of any one person’s ability to read everything. So, what can this humble veteran say that is new and exciting?
I am a veteran. I spent 18 months in Vietnam. I came home to hate for the soldier. I went to war as an innocent and came back hardened and bewildered. I was a small town boy who didn’t smoke, swear, do drugs or chase the ladies. War changed me. I am not the kind of person who is going to sit in groups and pour out my soul as I learned over the years that the only one that can help my soul was not of this earth. So, I dealt with my ghosts of war, and still do. I have found peace over the years…mostly with my wonderful wife and two incredibly wonderful daughters. The only real constant in my entire life has been my time with these three sweet, funny and intelligent people.
To me, they are the reason I joined the Army when others were protesting and living in a drug culture with free love as the slogan of the day. Although I had no idea that I would be so blessed with them in my life one day, I loved this country and I can speak from the perspective of having seen a number of other places on this planet. Sure, in retrospect, I can ask why we were in Vietnam. But, what difference does it make? As a soldier, my focus was on America and freedom and apple pie and baseball, and preserving these gifts for generations to come.
Veterans from all wars and from all the times of peace are special people because they did more than sit around a campfire and bitch about life. America is great, and it is great because of each young American who ever took the oath to serve in the military. You cannot become a veteran by any other path. I can say in truth under God that I wore the uniform of the greatest nation on the planet with pride and distinction. Regardless of the perceptions of the general public, then and now, every man and woman who puts on a pair of government issued boots is a hero. They were ready to do what their higher-ups ordered them to do.
We learned teamwork, and respect for authority. We learned that we could be counted on during times of duress, and we learned that we could count on our buddies in uniform. The phrase “band of brothers” really does apply. I could write of days of horror and of joy, of absolute boredom and of unimaginable adrenalin pumped times that must be lived through to be believed. Many post-military lifetimes have been spent in justification and rationalization, and not all veterans find the peace that I have in God.
I am not trying to be preachy, but my personal path to sleeping through the night without hauntings of my 547 days at war comes through my belief. I know that I served with honor and obedience to the powers-that-be. I know that my talks with Jesus have been rewarded. Over the years, I am a triple winner of the lottery: first with my wonderful wife, second with my oldest daughter and third with my youngest daughter. Their names are no more important to you, the reader, than are the names of the individual men and women who served this great nation, or who will serve today and in the future. Each is important to those who know them and love them and that is the point of this article on veterans.
The point is that every uniform was worn by a person of extreme importance, and should be honored and thanked for making sure that bombs are not exploding around you every day. We get so used to the reports of war that we have learned to condition ourselves to tune out. A video of a kitten saved by a fireman…now that’s a story that we stop and listen to. Another man or woman comes home in a flag-draped coffin…ain’t got no time for that. So, my message is to thank the individual veterans in your own families, and support them as they go from being a soldier, sailor, marine, airman or coast guardsman, to being a veteran.
You really do owe your freedom to these special people.
Please call 219-769-8803 to find out about the remarkable program that Calumet Park has for veterans as a means of showing our respect and appreciation or go to calumetparkcemetery.com