Today is Veteran’s Day in the United States, the day we honor the men and women who have served our country in the armed forces. These men and women have given up part of their lives and parts of their bodies, to protect the freedoms that we take for granted.
I don’t know if we still have any World War 1 veterans still living, but if there are, they would be over one hundred years old and would have seen more changes in their life times than they ever could have imagined.
My dad is a veteran of World War 2 and he just turned 90 last month. He enlisted in the US Navy prior to the US involvement and served 6 years, mostly in the Pacific, and left the Navy after the war had ended. The last 2 years of the war, dad served on the largest ammunitions ship in the world. Had they taken any kind of hit, not only would it have killed everyone on board, but it would have taken out smaller ship within a couple of miles from them.
My dad’s brother spent nearly 4 years in the Navy as the tail gunner on torpedo bombers, and if anyone has studied the aerial aspects of World War 2 they would learn that torpedo bomber tail gunners had a very high mortality rate. God was merciful in protecting him and my dad throughout the conflict.
Other family members that have served include my older brother who served in Viet Nam, my wife’s brother who served in Korea and several nephews of my wife who have served in Iraq and South Korea. She has another nephew who is currently serving as an Army warrant officer helicopter pilot.
I also wanted to serve my country, so I enlisted for 6 years of active duty in the Air Force during the Viet Nam War. I had a guaranteed position as a nuclear weapons specialist. However, during basic training both of my knees swelled up the size of basketballs and I was sent to the base hospital. When they found out that I had torn up my knees riding bulls prior to enlisting, they didn’t want any part of it and forced me to take a discharge I didn’t want and couldn’t fight. I don’t consider myself a veteran, but do have a little more appreciation of what our veterans went through in basic training.
The veterans who have served in different wars have all been faced with some of the same problems when they came home and each had their own unique and different problems to deal with as well. Many of them have had to look death in the face and see their buddies wounded and dying, and that is never an easy thing to handle. Some of them never find a way to handle the horrors they experienced and find living life from day to day is not an easy task.
Others come home to no job and no idea of where to get a job, especially in today’s job market with such high unemployment rates. Those that come back to a spouse and kids struggle to find a way to provide them and life after the service often seems unfair when they can’t.
Others come home missing legs, arms and eyes as well as those that return paralyzed and unable to walk. Their sacrifices are beyond what most of us would do for our jobs, but it wasn’t just a job for them it was their duty and their life. They sacrificed defending you and me.
I hope and pray that on this Veteran’s Day, you take time to thank family and friends who served our country. If you are out and about and happen upon a serviceman or woman, shake their hand and thank them. You have no idea how much that means to so many of them.
If you have the opportunity, contact your local veterans groups and find out how you can help our veterans with your time, your service or your money. Find out if there are any needy veterans in your area and take them a meal or help them with something around their house or apartment. Offer to take them to the store or to the doctor.
Do something to help serve them since they served us. Don’t take your freedoms for granted, but take some kind of action to let veterans in your area know that someone truly appreciates the years they spent protecting those freedoms.
To those veterans who read this, I salute you and thank you for what you did for me and the rest of the nation. I also want you to know that I pray for our veterans as well as our active servicemen and women on a regular basis and will always continue to do so.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.