War is a term that conjures thoughts of battles between the Taliban and Marines, the Japanese destroyers and the Navy, the invasion of Iraq by the Air Force, and the ground battle between the Viet-Cong and the Army. It can bring to mind the military geniuses: Patton, Eisenhower, Pershing, Franks, Petraeus. Tanks, small arms, and medics may even enter your mind. But what about Callahan in your poli-sci class? Or Fields in chemistry? Maybe that quiet kid in music appreciation? Veterans don’t always have a war, a battle, or even a skirmish to their name, but they are veterans nonetheless.
Veterans Day hasn’t always been known by the name we honor it with today. It was originally termed Armistice Day, due to World War I ending in the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. Someone finally came to his senses in 1954 and began calling it Veterans Day. The military rejoiced, because it gave the troops an extra holiday in the year to stay home and drink Stripes beer. It has morphed into a holiday that includes an extra day off and often is part of a four-day weekend for active duty men and women.
I’ve had the distinct honor to serve with some really wonderful people from all branches of the service. I’ve served with guys twice my age, as well as some who never went to college and were in my ranks at the age of 18. I’ve served with men from Virginia, women from California, and I currently work beside a guy from Jamaica. From all walks of life, these men and women came forward, signed their name on the dotted line, and said, “I’ll defend this country, even if it means I lose my life.” Think about that. Someone who doesn’t know you has decided that your freedom is worth his or her life.
I couldn’t write this article without mentioning our retired brethren and those who chose not to make it a career, but chose to serve anyway. They fill student centers, grocery stores, football games, and bars. They answer the phone when you call the bank, they fix that window your pledges broke, and they even make up a select portion of your fraternity. The uniform of today’s soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines are respected because of the actions of those who came before them. A debt of gratitude is owed to the previous generation by today’s servicemen and women.
None of this could be possible without a select group of people: you. We couldn’t do what we did on the front lines without your support. We would be extremely lonely without your support. If you ever get the opportunity to welcome a unit home that has been deployed, do it. It’s an awe-inspiring sight.
I hear it all the time, and I will undoubtedly hear it all day, but this one is for you: THANK YOU. You guys deserve one hell of a party. God bless our troops, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America..