I wrote this for Veterans Day 2011. I’m posting it for the third time because I think about the message in it often.
Last Sunday, Parade magazine was a special issue in honor of Veterans Day. The article “Six Wars, Six Vets, Six Stories of Courage” highlighted veterans of six different conflicts in interviews about what it means to be an American soldier. Yonas Hagos, who received a Purple Heart for injuries suffered in Iraq, was asked “Do you see yourself as a hero?” His simple answer: “I went and served my country. I did my part.”
Most of our veterans would take the same attitude, I imagine. They learn what many of us don’t completely understand- what it truly means to “pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.” To make a commitment to “Duty, Honor, Country,” with little regard to selfish pursuits.
There were a lot of us, for various reasons, who were relieved that we were able to avoid being drafted to go to Vietnam. Looking back, I realize that wasn’t a very patriotic attitude. I have friends who served there to whom I am grateful. Because as I read Private Hagos words, I was thinking “No, you did my part, too.” They serve so that we can stay here and enjoy the freedoms and benefits that we take for granted.
I have friends and have lost friends who served in each of our nation’s wars in the last century. My uncles were WWII heroes, at least in my eyes. And my contemporaries who slogged through Vietnam are my champions, who stood for me when I didn’t have to. We can’t do enough to say thank you to the men and women who have served valiantly, whether in the field of battle or in a non-combat assignment.
My colleagues at Bo-Ty Florist share my sentiments. Their families have sent sons and daughters, sisters and brothers, Moms and Dads into the military, and know first-hand the sacrifices soldiers make. On this Veterans Day we offer our gratitude and admiration to all those who have offered themselves to defend this great nation.
The six veterans in the article all shared the same thoughts about Veterans Day. Say “thank you for serving”; it means so much.