Remembering veterans is the least we can do

Published 5:23 pm Wednesday, November 7, 2018

By the time you read these words, the political races will be over, and those million signs that are protruding from the earth beside our roadways will be tossed in the trash. One side will declare victory, and the other will be huddled in the corner crumpled in defeat.  

I am sure there will be blame, pointing fingers, and enough “I told you so’s” to last for another two years or more. Why not provide even more division in this country? We are becoming very proficient in doing so.  

However, before you jump up and down with political joy or go crying in a corner weighted in defeat, pause for a moment this weekend to honor the men and women who have served our country and protected your very right to vote in the first place.  

If there is one place to see honor, humility and healing it would be to look in the face of the men and women who are and have been a part of the United States Armed Forces.  

These fine soldiers come from all races and genders, all political affiliations and provide a united front. They have respect for their fellow comrades and are willing to lay down their lives to protect their friends, their families and their country. They are the heartbeat of America.

I was at a high school reunion not long ago, and one of our classmates arrived proudly wearing his Vietnam veteran’s cap. Years ago, when he returned from war, many American citizens did not so proudly applaud this veteran’s homecoming. In his eyes, I saw my brother who served his country as a Navy Lieutenant during the ‘Nam years. John deeply loved his comrades and America until his death over 20 years ago from probable exposure to a carcinogen used during the Vietnam War. 

I saw an elderly soldier on Memorial Day being pushed in a wheelchair with his World War II veteran’s cap atop his head and medals pinned to his jacket. His weak arm slowly raised to salute the American flag that flew above him while his eyes brimmed in tears. In those eyes, I saw my parent’s greatest generation who gave all they could to save our country from enemies who threatened our very existence. 

I watched as a wounded warrior arrived back in the states from Afghanistan with mortal wounds needing expert care and healing both physically and mentally. I saw in his eyes all the veterans who had returned home but will never again be the same as they were when they were first called to serve. 

 Of all the folks living in America, it is our soldiers who need the most expert care and state of the art facilities to aid in their healing. It is the least we can do to say “thank you.”  

We all get caught up in the rhetoric of life. We often call people names, and think we are right whether we are politically right or left.  And, while we are spewing self-righteousness, jumping up and down in victory or crouching in political defeat, there is a soldier who is amid a battle defending our right to do so.  

Nov. 11 is Veteran’s Day. On this day, why not be quiet, not point any fingers, not yell any disparaging names and respect one another? Pause and remember the grandfather, the father, the uncle, the brother or the sister who was the soldier who served and put their lives on the line for you.  

These are our brave fellow men and women who are the disciplined, trained and poignant reminders of what defines America. We are not just Democrats or Republicans. We are not defined by the color of our skin, our gender or where our ancestors once lived. We are all citizens of one country defended by the soldier who fights for all of us as one people, one nation under God and who does so to create liberty and justice for all. Why not join hands in unity and give thanks to those who gave so much to all of us? It’s the least we can do.