Tag Archives: United States Armed Forces

The Day Before Veterans Day: A Story And A Request

Tomorrow is Veterans Day. As I’ve done before in previous years, I go out of my way to acknowledge the sacrifice and service those who have served in the military. It’s one of the few issues that transcends ideology, politics, and debate. Those who have served deserve our utmost admiration and respect.

There’s a personal element for me, as well. I have many close family members who have served in the United States Military. I have grandparents who served in World War II. I have an uncle who served in Vietnam. They know what it means to serve their country in times of war and peace.

I know it is often used as a platitude by politicians and pundits, supporting the troops. That doesn’t make it any less deserving of such support. I certainly offer my thanks and my respect to our veterans, especially on days like Veterans Day. I also encourage others to do so and to support various veterans charities.

In the past, I’ve donated to the Wounded Warrior Project. I strongly encourage others to do the same, donating to this or other veteran-supporting charities. On top of that, I’d like to share a quick story that was told to me a few years back by one of my uncles.

Out of respect for his privacy, I won’t reveal my uncle’s name or which branch he served. I’ll just state that he has been very involved in supporting veterans since he got out of the service many years ago. He’s actively involved with churches and organizations. He’s the kind of man who will go above and beyond for a fellow veteran.

This particular story he shared took place at a local church. For years, a group of World War II veterans would meet there around a certain date. They’d catch up, drink, and laugh in all the ways you’d expect of old friends. It was a tradition they all cherished.

However, in recent years, that group’s numbers have been dwindling. Even though millions served in World War II, there are only an estimated 300,000 left alive. That may sound like a lot, but in a small group like this, they noticed when many of their friends began dying. It got to a point where the group was small, so much so that there was little to catch up on.

This is where my uncle comes in. At one particular gathering at a church, he met up with this old guy wearing the distinct World War II veteran attire most recognize. He was sitting alone and not in the best shape, health-wise. He didn’t look sad, but you could tell he was among the last of the friends he served with.

My uncle, being the wonderful man he is, sat down and talked to the man. They got along well. In doing so, my uncle found out that this old man was the last surviving member of his platoon. They’d been close for many years, but now he was the last one. Given his age, it wouldn’t be long before his entire platoon joined the many others who made the ultimate sacrifice.

It struck my uncle because he knew that, once this man passed, too many of his stories would pass with him. That just couldn’t stand. My uncle sat with that man and just listened to him reminisce. I don’t know how long they chatted, but my uncle made it a point to hear his story, knowing those who could tell them were dwindling fast.

It’s a special kind of way to honor a veteran. You can help them in many ways, but I like to think just listening to them and their story goes a long way. War and combat has consumed entire generations. They leave lasting marks, including many scars.

That’s why it’s important to remember and honor them. There are memories worth preserving, full of lessons worth learning. Times may change. Warfare often changes with it. The one constant is the strength it takes to fight, serve, and sacrifice.

I hope this story from my uncle gets that point across. I also hope it inspires others to help and honor our veterans in their own special way.

Thank you and to all those who are serving now or have served, I hope you feel the love and support you deserve on Veterans Day this year.

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A Salute To The Troops For Memorial Day 2019

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To everyone out there enjoying the first holiday of the summer, Happy Memorial Day.

To anyone out there who is currently serving in the military and their families, on behalf of those you protect and serve, I sincerely thank you. You’re the reason we can have a holiday like Memorial Day. Your commitment to duty and sacrifice is worthy of the highest honor.

Now, I never served in the military. However, there are many close relatives in my family who have. Some served in World War II. A few served in Vietnam. Others are still enlisted and serve various roles throughout the armed forces. I also have friends I know have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. I’ve seen first-hand what it takes to serve one’s country.

I’ve also seen the toll it takes on the men and women who make so many sacrifices for their country and their family. It’s hard to overstate the effects that combat take on people. Many struggle and need assistance. If you can, I strongly encourage everyone to donate to organizations like the Wounded Warrior Project or the Purple Heart Foundation.

Today is one of those days where it’s worth remembering what our soldiers have done for us and how much they continue to do. Many have made the ultimate sacrifice. Many continue to put their lives on the line every day. Today, keep them in your thoughts as you celebrate this day. We can never undo the horrors of war, but we can certainly honor those who fight for us.

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Happy Memorial Day 2018!

us-soldiers

Today is a special, but bittersweet day for many. For most people, Memorial Day is just the day you recognize as when all the pools open and everyone starts planning a trip to the beach. I admit that’s how I saw it as a kid. As we grow and learn about the hardships of this world, we come to appreciate it’s more profound meaning.

Memorial Day is, as declared in the act that made it a federal holiday in 1968, a date for remembering those who lost their lives in the wars that helped shape the history and character of a country. While I know it is trendy among certain crowds to criticize and even bemoan the character of a country that once owned slaves, that doesn’t make the sacrifice of these brave soldiers any less honorable.

Say what you will about those who craft the policy or agenda of a country, but those who choose to serve it are worthy of our respect and admiration. It takes a special something to be willing to lay your your body, your life, and your principles on the line for your country. That takes a strength that not everybody has.

I’m lucky enough to know some of that strength personally. I have close family members, both alive and deceased, who served in the United States Military in various forms. I have family who served back in World War II in the Pacific. I have family who served in the army. I even have one who served in Vietnam as a marine.

I see in these people who I love and cherish as embodiments of the strength it takes to serve. Just growing up with them, learning from them, and sometimes getting lectured by them have helped forge my character and that of my family. They help teach me what it means to be honorable, strong, and selfless.

Even those who didn’t serve directly in the armed forces still found ways to contribute. One of my female relatives worked in a torpedo factory during World War II. She did that when other relatives tried to discourage her out of concern for her safety, but she did it anyways. She was just that kind of strong.

Female Soldier

Even with this strength, though, there were losses. These same relatives who show such strength and honor for their service also show the price that comes with that service. Some of the people they served with never came home. There were also plenty that did who did not come back in one piece, physically and mentally.

These days, that price is easy to overlook in an era of political upheaval and evolving agendas. My family understands that more than most, but not as much as some have suffered. On a day like this, it’s important to remember and reflect on those who suffered fron their sacrifice. Their losses have helped ensure that we have a society and civilization in which we can thrive.

Even though war, as a whole, has been in decline over the past century, such progress was only possible through the sacrifice of these soldiers. Some of them never got to live to see the world they helped create. Some may never know just how much their toil helped shape the world. That makes days like this that much more important.

Memorial Day Parade

Beyond the parades and barbecues, it’s just as critical to honor the spirit that every active soldier and experienced veteran embodies. Whether it’s within your own family or in those close to you, today is a day to celebrate the ideals they pursued and the burdens they bore.

It’s also a great time to contribute to any veteran-related charities. Some include The Wounded Warrior Project and Home For Our Troops. Whether it’s contributing money or just spending time with those close to you who served, every little act helps to honor their sacrifice.

Once more, to all who serve now and to all who have served before, especially those who are no longer with us, I thank you for your strength and your sacrifice. Happy Memorial Day and please continue to honor the ideals that make this country and others worth defending.

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