(This Article first ran in October of 2005.)
What is a Veteran?
Allow me to state, right up front, that I did not compose this. I received it as a “forwarded” e-mail. As I read it, I realized the truth it contains is simply profound. I pass it on to you now. If you have ever served America in the uniform of her Armed Services… THANK YOU!… Longstreet
WHAT IS A VETERAN?
Father Denis Edward O’Brien, USMC
"Some Veterans bear visible signs of their service: a missing limb, a jagged scar, a certain look in the eye. Others may carry the evidence inside them: a pin holding a bone together, a price of shrapnel in the leg. Or perhaps another sort of inner steel: the soul’s ally forged in the refinery of adversity.
Except in parades, however, the men and women who have kept America safe wear no badges or emblems.
You can’t tell a Vet just by looking.
He is the cop on the beat who spent six months in Saudi Arabia sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carriers didn’t run out of fuel.
He is the barroom loudmouth, dumber than five wooden planks, whose overgrown frat-boy behavior is outweighed a hundred times in the cosmic scales by his four hours of exquisite bravery near the 38th parallel.
She – or he – is the nurse who fought against futility and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years in Da Nang.
He is the POW who went away one person and came back another – or didn’t come back at all.
He is the Quantico Drill Instructor who has never seen combat, but has saved countless lives by turning slouchy, no-account rednecks and Gang Members into Marines, and teaching them to watch each other’s backs.
He is the parade-riding Legionnaire who pins on his ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand.
She is the career Quartermaster who watches the ribbons and medals pass her by.
He is the anonymous heroes in The Tomb of the Unknowns, whose presence at
Arlington National Cemetery must forever preserve the memory of all the anonymous heroes whose valor dies unrecognized with them on the battlefield or in the ocean’s sunless deep.
He is the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket, palsied by now and aggravatingly slow, who helped liberate a Nazi death camp and who wishes all day long that his wife were still alive to hold when the nightmares come.
She is an ordinary and yet and extraordinary human being – a person who offered some of her life’s most vital years in the service of this country, and who sacrificed his ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs.
He is a soldier and a savior and a sword against the darkness, and his nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the finest, greatest nation ever known.
So remember, each time you see someone who has Served our country, just lean over and say “Thank You.” That’s all most people need, and in most cases it will mean more than any medals they could have been awarded or were awarded.
Two little words that mean a lot, “THANK YOU”.
“It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us Freedom of the Press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us Freedom of Speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the Freedom to Demonstrate. It is the soldier, who salutes the Flag, who serves beneath the Flag, and whose coffin is draped by the Flag, who allows protesters to burn the flag"