VETERAN’S DAY MESSAGE 2015
Military veterans are the largest “brotherhood” in the United States today. Combined, we represent a mighty force that doesn’t back down from a challenge, and manages to survive the worst. The scars and bruises may show, or may be internalized, but we earned them in the name of freedom.
The American veteran has traveled a long and tortuous route. The path began in the numbing cold of Valley Forge. It took him to a fiery line of cotton bales at New Orleans, then to the Argonne forest and Omaha Beach, and the Pacific to places with exotic names like Okinawa or pathetic ones like Heartbreak Ridge. Again the path led to Southeast Asia . . . To the flat delta region, dense jungle mixed with rice paddies, and rugged mountains of South Vietnam.
The men who fought in these wars were often ordinary, undistinguished from their neighbors until the day came when the crisis of battle lifted them to the heights of valor.
The majority of veterans understood the need for their service: they loved both freedom and their country. They understood — and still understand — that freedom has a price tag. It is not free; it must be earned by each generation, or it will perish.
As Thomas Paine put it: “Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.”
In my fiction books, I have tried to show how war impacts each man or woman in different ways. No one comes home from a war unchanged. Like Joe, Ugly, Silent Sam, Spence Gilbertson or Army Nurse Debra Dupree, each veteran deals with the after-effects in their own way, and shouldn’t be held up to some all-encompassing judgement. Americans—including our own government officials– should work to understand their actions, not judge or categorize.
Our veterans are a source of pride in our nation, and exemplify the kind of dedication and sacrifice needed for safeguarding freedom.
Remember them, and their contributions to the cause of freedom, not only on Veterans’ Day, but for all the years of our lives.
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