Veteran’s Day is one of those pseudo ‘holidays’ that’s hard to know how to celebrate. It’s more about remembering and honoring rather than feasting and revelry.
‘Veterans’ can be a vague word, conjuring images of crusty bearded men with braided hair down their backs protesting this or that or, more lately, amputees that stare out the window and jump at the slightest sound.
And sometimes, those images are true.
But the Veterans of the United States Military are so much more than angry hippies or empty shells. They are the epitome of courage. They define brave. They are warriors.
Veterans come in all shapes and sizes.
They carried muskets and wore knickers, fighting to become a nation unlike any on earth. They defended our borders in ships made of iron. They scrambled across the fields of Europe – twice, and many never came back.
They flew rattletrap planes across the Pacific Ocean not knowing when or how they would touch terra firma again. They fought wars in jungles and eastern lands when their own friends and families didn’t support them.
They marched across desert sands to uproot evil and again, later, to avenge innocent lives lost in buildings that came tumbling down. And far from the home they love, they still fight in hell-holes of rock, grit, dirt, heat and insects.
They know that every day could be their last. They know no one will ever understand what they go through. They will never be paid enough. They will miss time with their loved ones. And they know their service can never be repaid.
That’s the secret, you know – it’s never been about the payment anyway. It’s always been about the service. That’s why it’s called the Armed Services. The reasons our veterans sign their name on the dotted line vary, but the outcome is always the same. Because of their service, we are free.
Thousands and thousands have paid the ultimate price. And thousands more stand ready to pay it? Why? Why would they do that?
They fight for our country. They fight for our ideals. They fight for freedom. They fight for their families. They fight for you and me. And they pay the price.
They come home with wounds and scars, some visible, many not. They come home with nightmares and memories, robbing them of peace. Or they never come home at all. We know where some fell, and others, we will never know.
We can’t possibly repay these brave men and women. And they are not asking for that. But there is much we can do.
If you see someone in uniform, shake his or her hand. If someone is wearing a ball cap, thank him or her for their service. Take a veteran to lunch, buy them a drink, and invite them over for turkey when they’re far from home.
Remember their names. Comfort their widows and widowers. Fly the American flag. Send a care package. Vote in elections big and small. Speak your mind, travel freely, worship in freedom. Someone died for your right and privilege to do so.
SO DO IT!
Go out and live life. Seize adventure, love with everything you have and don’t look back. We can never repay our veterans, but we can treasure what they have given us.
This Veteran’s Day, remember the check they signed. Find a veteran and say thank you. Go live well. Laugh much, love passionately and live free!