Several years ago one of my co-workers was a great guy with a fab sense of humor. I couldn’t have worked with a better man. We remain friends to this day. I can’t date this writing, but i would guess 2003.
He was commander for an American Legion branch and was expected to give a speech for their Veteran’s Day event. He asked me if I could write something for him. After working together for quite a while and knowing his heart was in all the right places, it was pretty easy to write what I thought he would want to say. It was just what I would have said too, if we had exchanged places. I wrote:
It is an honor to stand and speak as a representative for all veterans today. We are not noted as public speakers. We are noted for coming to the aid of our country. We are noted for doing whatever was asked to defend freedom and our constitution. We are counted on to protect our homes, our families, our communities and our nation. We have always been one of you. We are someone you know, someone you went to school or church with. We are a friend of your son or daughter, your boyfriend, fiancé or husband, your brother or sister, your son or daughter or your dad. We are all the men and women and boys and girls willing to do the right things in times of wrong. We have always helped the underdog, stood for high principles and believed in our country…ONE NATION…..UNDER GOD.
We have thousands and thousands of veterans to thank and to remember, today. We want to say thank you, with all our hearts, for all the brave and selfless deeds performed. We can never forget soldiers who gave up limb or life to protect us and our homes. Those soldiers of WWI and WWII and Korea bolstered the backbone of a young industrial country. They believed in duty and commitment and respect. They believed in the honor of proving themselves and their might for the safety of freedom and the future of our United States.
Thoughts changed during the era of Vietnam and soldiers weren’t held in very high esteem. I lived through that time ….participated and sacrificed…. through the criticism, indifference and resentment on my home ground. Some of you, today, may feel we have cussed and discussed that era enough. It is not my intention to stir old wounds, but it is imperative that we use today, Veteran’s Day, to polish up the “thank you”s to those veterans and buff off the anger and discord they have suffered. We need to remember that through all the ridicule, the demonstrations, the lack of a united front at home, our veterans did, again, what was traditional and right. They presented the world with the UNITED states. They did all that was asked and more. They suffered the loss of innocence, dear friends, and comrades, even their own lives, following the example set by soldiers from the past. They were veterans in the truest sense of the word. It is always hardest to follow the least trodden path.
It is a wonderful display, in this troubled time, to see the renewal of patriotism for our fighting men and women overseas today. It is my belief that when war came to our shores, we finally understood what the soldiers knew all along. War is brutal, it is awful, it is suffering we can’t ever comprehend and none of our veterans ever wished it to reach home.
The world is no longer faraway places. The children and families in the midst of war, today, are suffering much as we suffered from the 9-11 attack. How fortunate that we do not endure the pain day in and day out. Many, many people on this earth are not able to put war and terror behind them. Most have no one willing to commit to ending violence in their lives.
We can be proud, honored and humble, today, that we have had soldiers and the veterans with us, set the standard for what America means to the world. The United States owes its existence, its persistence and its leadership in the world, to our soldiers and veterans. They fight for all that we cherish. They comfort the children of war. They protect their families and your family, their friends and your friends, their church and your church. They proudly proclaim to the world ONE NATION, UNDER GOD, INDIVISIBLE, WITH LIBERTY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL. It is our duty, our debt, to say thank you. We keep you in our prayers, we bless your objectives, and we are overwhelmed by all that you do for us. Let us never forget and forever embrace our soldiers and veterans today and every day. May God bless and keep every single one.