Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Honor them...

I did not storm the beaches at Iwo Jima.

I also did not face the horrors of Korea, fight in the jungles of Vietnam, do one thing to stop the spread of communism, break down the Berlin Wall or fight in Iraq or Afghanistan.

I have never faced down a person determined to kill me because his leader told him it was his job.

No, I consider myself lucky to have never been injured, lost a limb, died or known anybody who has died fighting for the military.

To tell the truth, I have never done a single thing to defend this country from enemies either on foreign soil or here in the United States.

I was glued to the television when the bombs hit Baghdad back in 1991. It was all fascinating, but I was more worried about our guys and girls.

I feel sad every time I read that one of our men or women has been killed or injured fighting for our country.

When I go to the cemetery, I always make my way around, noticing the headstones of those from Heavener who were in the service, especially those who died fighting in some foreign country.

There is Freddy Sonagerra, who lived across the street from my grandparents. He and Bill Elliott, my former superintendent’s brother, died in Vietnam.

I feel a sadness wash over my body when I see their graves or look at the list of people from Heavener who died fighting. There is a monument in front of the library. I see the names, but don’t know the faces. I can imagine the sadness the families felt when they found out they would never see their husband or son alive again. I can also imagine how proud they were, of those sons and husbands, willing to do something so many others were not brave enough to do.

I am also proud of them, along with all the others who served or are currently serving.

Their country called and they answered. Freddy and Bill did not want to die as young men, neither did any of the others. I feel like they died for you and me, trying to protect the people they knew, even people they didn’t know. They loved this country and everything it stands for.

So do the other veterans, or at least a large majority of them. Think of all the people who have defended this country from when the first settlers arrived. They have fought the British, French, Spanish, Mexico, fellow country men from a different part of the United States, the Germans, Italians, Japanese, Koreans, Vietnamese, the Iraq military, terrorists in Afghanistan and many other places.

I never wanted to be in the military. It wasn’t cool back in my days, like any of us knew what was cool or for the best. I had friends who joined and no, I did not question their decision. They felt called to serve their country.

My time was an awkward era. Vietnam was still hanging over the country along with the hostages in Iran. This was all before Iraq and we still felt an innocence, never knowing or expecting crazy people would kill our citizens with bombs and by flying jets into towers.

Sometimes, I wonder what this country would be like if it wasn’t for the veterans and those serving now. Our country is not perfect. But consider what it would be like without our veterans. That would be scary.

On this day, when we honor our veterans, remember the sacrifices so many have made. And if you get the chance, thank them for all they have done and given up.

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