-- Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address.
It's not all glitz and glamor here at Moxie... every now and then, we pause on the superficial to reflect on something worthy and real.
Today marks the 92nd year that the United States has honored our military veterans on a day in November. Originally known as "Armistice Day," Veterans Day falls on our calendars every November 11th, and serves as a brief moment in our year where we, as civilians, are commanded to salute and reflect upon the sacrifices and dedication of millions of servicemen and women. (read up more on the day here, here and here.)
Washington DC is a haven for our nation's history--much of it military-related. The tourist sites and monuments are reminders of the turmoil our nation has overcome, and the strength and fortitude we've molded over the past few centuries.
Arlington National Cemetery is among the most serene, picturesque, hallowed places I've ever traveled. I ventured to DC with my family on a handful of childhood roadtrips, and my brief walk through the Cemetery was among one of my most cherished and emotional visits of my life.
I also stumbled upon this segment as I searched for photos, and it struck me to my core. I know it's a little lengthy, but I promise, as one American to the next, it'll strike a chord within your soul. (found here.)
It may be very difficult for many to understand, but there exists a segment of our society, a minority within, that willingly place themselves between our enemies and the rest. That segment has always been there throughout our history and will remain there in the future.
They come down from the mountains. They come from the cities of the North and the Bayous of the South. They leave the beaches of California and Florida. North, South, East and West, they leave the comfort of their homes and loved ones to volunteer for America. Young and older, Black, White, Brown, Red and Yellow skinned, historically male, but now female too, they come with no desire of praise or large salaries, but a desire only to see America remain the freest nation on the planet and to see others share in the freedoms we do.
Not all face battle, but many do. Some pay the ultimate sacrifice and end up forgotten by all but family, loved ones and maybe those that sent them. Some never return, lost forever, their fate unknown to all who know and love them.
Others return wounded, broken in body or mind. They may face a life of scorn by the very ones they were protecting. All too often those who wish to use them to further political agendas and who could care less about them use them as political props. They are looked upon as victims instead of as the heroes and patriots they really are.
Many desire to return to battle alongside their comrades as soon as possible, missing limbs and fitted with prosthetics. Lifelong friendships may be forged after the battle ceases while others shun closeness, fearing the pain of losing a friend during another battle.
Our media pages and reports are filled with bad news and claims against them. Some of our politicians denigrate their sacrifices for political gain. And still, they continue to come from all corners of the nation to fight for our freedoms, liberties and to keep our great nation free.
These are the ones that fill the ranks of our Armed Services and our Veterans Groups. They are America's Veterans.
I once received in email what I consider to be the very best Definition of a Veteran I have ever seen.
"A veteran - whether active duty, retired, national guard, or reserve - is someone who, at one point in his or her life, wrote a blank check made payable to The 'United States of America', for an amount of 'up to and including my life.'" (Author unknown)
That is Honor. An Honor that too many Americans no longer understand. That is the courage to leave everything behind and possibly travel to far lands to face an enemy to keep people you don't even know free or to free a people you also don't know.
I am one who has a very difficult time affixing "Greatest" to any generation as every generation has faced their trials and tribulations. World War Two gave us many who traveled far to fight oppression and tyranny. Many were forced into the Military and many others volunteered.
Korea and Viet Nam were similar but with the Korean Veterans simply being forgotten and the Viet Nam generation facing the scorn of a thankless nation for many years. Yet, the Viet Nam generation had a greater percentage of volunteers than did the World War Two generation.
Today's Military and Veterans of the current battles are 100% volunteer, no one is forced into the Military against their will. How can we rate these Soldiers, Airman, Sailors and Marines any less than earlier Veterans we consider "the Greatest?" I cannot.
As we reminisce and celebrate another Veteran's Day, let us recall that we still have several in Harms Way, doing what many of us did before, facing an enemy to keep America free. Facing an enemy to free an oppressed people.
America owes its Veterans, all of its Veterans, a debt of gratitude. It is a debt that can never be adequately repaid. We can never regain what we gave up in our youth to face the enemy. We can never repay what others give up today to keep us free.
The best we can do is honor and respect them, teaching our children to also honor and respect the sacrifices they made and are making today.
Until such time that the world stops producing despots, tyrants and those who feel they have a right to rule all others, we will keep on producing Veterans and they will continue coming forth for all of us. I thank God that they keep coming.
To all my fellow Veterans, Welcome Home!
I am especially proud of my daddy, grandfather, and two brothers who have all served so selflessly for this amazing country.
Hug, talk to, smile at a veteran today... thank them for the sacrifice and dedication to protecting your life. Do it everyday--not just today.