Original Post from 2014:
I posted this a few days ago on Facebook and the response has been pretty terrific. Lots of “Shares” and hundreds of “Likes” from all over the world.
The picture has been on the blog a few times but I was thinking about what a veteran really is. As I told a group of high school students today, I have never met a veteran yet who claimed to be a hero. Most of us are just content with blending back into civilian life at the end of our hitch (regardless of how long that hitch ended up being.) Its been over twenty years since I retired and I find myself more and more gravitating towards veterans groups like USSVI, American Legion and VFW. None of the groups I belong to have bars so when we meet its normally to associate with people who have something in common with us.
Our service as individuals is as varied as the grains of sand on Omaha Beach. Some of us carried guns around with us and some did their fighting in a mess hall or a company clerk tent. My favorite Marine is quick to tell you he only spent one day in combat in Korea. He often forgets to tell you about the months he spent in a hospital in Tokyo afterwards trying to get his life back together. Many of the boys/men were drafted (at least until 1973). But to a person they will tell you that being part of the service was a pivotal point in their lives. They came home to a world that was smaller than when they left and not quite as disciplined compared to where they had just been.
My Posts are just finishing up the written and oratorical contests for the 2014-15 year. Its absolutely amazing to read the words that these kids use for veterans and why we are so special to their world. I was humbled to read them and even more to hear some of the kids speak at the assembly in school today. It really gives you hope for America when you see that kind of thing happen.
In years past, I have said that for all they did, every day should be Veteran’s Day. I still believe that but it is kind of special to know that we get at least one day where many people take the time to say thanks.
So to all of my fellow Veterans, let me add a thank you of my own. It wouldn’t have been the same without you!
November 2019 Update
I am reminded each year that I am getting older. The picture used in this post is now 45 years old. The memories come flooding back each time I see it. We were not heroes. We were just like the many others who just served. Ordinary men who did extraordinary things so that others would not have to.
I have many titles from my life. Being called a Veteran is one of the ones I cherish the most.