Let's honor our veterans todayBy DANIEL L. GARDNER,
Someone shared the following definition of a veteran on Facebook. “A Veteran - whether active duty, retired, or national guard or reserve - is someone who, at one point in his or her life, wrote a blank check made payable to ‘The United States of America,’ for an amount of ‘up to and including my life.’ That is honor, and there are way too many people in this country who no longer understand it.”
The earliest post of this definition I could find was on an online group site called parklandwatch. On Aug. 4, 2007, Art Allen posted on the group site that Reed Jarvis had “discovered” a great definition of a veteran, followed by the definition cited above. I don’t know Allen or Jarvis, and neither attributed the quote to anyone. Nevertheless, the quote says a lot about veterans and was probably written by a veteran or one who loves a veteran.
Sometimes we fail to remember all the branches of our military including all the statuses within each of those branches. Even on Nov. 11, at 11:11 a.m., many of us no longer consider with thanksgiving our fellow Americans who have served and are serving to protect our nation, our rights, and our freedoms. Most of the time most Americans take our veterans for granted, or worse.
The closest I ever came to becoming a veteran was in the fall of 1971 when I drove to a Marine Corps recruiting station in Meridian. The recruiter showed me many options, but recognized much more than I did at the time that my reasons for joining were more about leaving a place than about joining a service.
My father was a naval aviator in the Pacific in WWII and achieved the rank of lieutenant commander. I have his log book and have read enough to know how well he served our nation honorably. My dad never spoke about his experiences in that war.
Our oldest son joined the Marine Corps right out of high school two years before 911 broke the world. Needless to say, he also served honorably in every station where he was sent, and he achieved the rank of Sergeant. Both grandfathers fought in WWI, and an uncle served in WWII.
No doubt many American families can be proud of contributions they have made in the defense of our country. Make no mistake, when a family member serves, the whole family is involved in service and sacrifice.
Like many parents, I feared for our son’s life when he made the decision to write a “blank check made payable to ‘The United States of America,’ for an amount of ‘up to and including (his) life.’” After 911, like many fathers I would have given anything to have taken my son’s place in that fighting. But, that’s not how wars work. And, too many of those who cheer for war or send our sons and daughters to war do so out of selfish political reasons.
Veterans who have served and are serving today know the price of honor. They have all signed the blank check. Veterans and families always pay the price of service and sacrifice. All Americans should make time to honor our veterans with thanksgiving throughout the year. Heartfelt honor is not political. Heartfelt honor is patriotic regardless of politics. Let’s honor our veterans today.
Daniel L. Gardner is a syndicated columnist who lives in Starkville. You may contact him at PJandMe2@gmail.com.