Sunday, November 11, 2007

Veteran's Day to Me

Today, I have reached another milestone in my service to my country. Another special day has arrived as I am fighting a war far from home and again I am forced to sit back and think about what it means to me; to be a soldier on this day - Veteran's Day.

Today, I read stories of celebration and remembrance of our military veterans and I take pride in being among that group of Americans. I am one who sacrifices selflessly in pursuit of a better life for me, my family and others. Today, I fight in the sand far from home to kill bad guys in their homes and not in ours. Today, I fight to help a country stand on its own so that they too may one day have the freedoms that America has.

As I read about veterans today and what this day means to others, I read of Vietnam and the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Wall. I feel a sense of pride as America has honored and embraced a generation of soldiers who were treated so poorly when they returned home after their war. I sometimes feel isolated and alone here, but know that no matter what happens here, many Americans will honor and embrace me upon my return. Many Americans support my service and duty to our country regardless of their attitude toward why we are here.

I read of how the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial Wall has become a de facto shrine where trinkets, letters and mementos are left by millions of visitors each year. Every non-perishable item is kept and catalogued. When it first opened the items were mostly unit patches, medals and photos of 'brothers'. With many veterans now in their 60's, members of a younger generation - including grandchildren of fallen veterans - are making contributions. One was a baseball card from a boy with a note that said, "For my grandfather"

Jan Scruggs, a veteran who came up with the idea for the memorial said, "It's a beautiful thing. It shows that those who we know and who were a part of our lives and who aren't with us any more still have an impact on us."

I hear these things and wonder if my fallen brothers will also have a place erected in their honor. A place where I will be able to take my children and show them the names of so many that died so that we may live. My children will know what it means to be an American and that the freedoms we enjoy are not free.

Someday I will walk along the names of all of my fallen brothers and take pride in knowing that I served with many great Americans.

To all who served and all who support them - from the frontlines in Iraq - Happy Veteran's Day!!!