Thursday, April 1, 2010

Lest We Never Forget

I struggled to write a column for Veteran's Day. It seemed like the right thing to do but I couldn't do it. How do you express in words the gratitude you have. Let's face it, I don't write for Hallmark. However, after watching the program put on by Mrs. Ferguson's Civic Class, I knew I had found my voice.

"Stand up next to you", what does it mean? To some it is a stopping point in the chorus of Lee Greenwoods song, God Bless the USA. A place where they can take a breath before moving on to the next line of the verse.

But for those few who actually understand its meaning. It plunges to the depths of our hearts and makes us acknowledge those men and women who served in the Armed Services. It makes us stand up. It is a symbol of hope, of caring, of honor, and of respect. A reminder that we should honor those men and women.

I never served in the armed services. For whatever reason it didn't happen for me. However, my father, grandfather, uncles, great grand father, cousins, and more recently my brother have all served or are still serving.

Like so many vets, they gave of themselves in times of peace and yes, times of war. I will never understand the horrors they have seen. I will never understand why a car door closing causes them to "crawl out of their skin." I will never know.

With the long history of military service, Veteran's Day is a day that I hold special. Not only does it give me a chance to honor those who have served, it allows me to pay tribute to the "heroes" in my family. I don't always do that.

But how many of us don't? How many of us wait until this day to tell the Vets, all the Vets, Thank You. Why do we need this day? Sure, I understand the historical implications of this day, 11-11 on the 11th hour. But I also understand the need to continuously thank them.

When was the last time, not on Veteran's Day, that you told a vet thank you? For me it was just a few days ago. A man came into the office here and I noticed his Vietnam Veteran hat. I stopped our conversation long enough to extend my hand and say thank you. He knew why.

And that's my point. We as citizens of this great country need to always remember them. How much effort does it take to extend your hand to a complete stranger and say thank you? You don't need to say why, trust me you don't. Because when their eyes meet yours and they see the sincerity and respect that you have for them there, they will know what you mean.

Those two words carry with them the weight of everything they fought for. They carry the respect, honor and absolute gratitude the we should, no, must have for them.

We welcomed them home in World War I and II, we forgot them in the Korean Conflict, we spat on them in the Vietnam war, and now we are starting to forget them as they come home from the war on terror. I challenge you not to let that happen.

I say show them all, every single one of them, that it is not too late to say thanks. Because just as sure as you are standing there expressing your "rights" these men and women bled so that you can have them.

To my father, to my grandfather, to my best friend my brother. Thank You. I can never say it enough.