Thank you to everyone who has ever worn a uniform and served our country on this Veterans Day. Each year on Veterans Day, The Marine Corp Birthday on the 10th, and on Memorial Day, I do a lot of reflection. I think alot about what generations of Americans have done, to protect and defend this great country of of ours. My Father, my great Uncles, and millions just like them, who walked into a induction center, raised their hands, and took an oath to defend us to the death if needed. We have been in many wars, not just to defend our country, but to liberate others from tyranny. Most serve in the military uneventfully, and never see war. Most in time of war may never see combat, but support it working on a flight line somewhere, supply depot, motor pool, or even a clerical job. They all do their part, and thankful to all of them.
We must give a special additional gratitude to those who served and saw actual combat, for which none of us can really fathom. These heroes return home forever changed by their experiences. We owe them in ways that can not be measured.
On a personal note, one of my best friends from high school resurfaced in my life. Someone who left the gang for Viet Nam where first hand he was thrust into being the head of his 101st airborne squad at the tender age of 18. His experiences were beyond description, and it remains in him today. Returning home with 3 purple hearts, shot once through his colon, and shrapnel twice, not to mention coming home with malaria. Of the 38 people in his unit 14 were killed, and everyone else was shot at least once, most more than once. However it did not end when he came home, about 15 years ago developed a lump in his throat, diagnosed as 4th stage cancer, caused almost for sure by agent orange, while others in his unit also developed related forms of lung cancers. His cancer treatment lasted 2 years and nearly killed him, and he continues to battle the affects of extensive radiation now. It has damaged his throat, and vocal cords, he can barely swallow, and may need to put a trachea devise in soon. These are the things we do not see that our combat veterans live the rest of their lives with. In my friends case surfaced years after in the prime of life. It was already unfair to put so much on a 18 year old to begin with, and to come back to him later in life like this is tragic. I pray everyday for my friend to be well, and at peace with the war, for which as squad leader felt responsible for the 14.
Thank our vets with all your hearts, and if you see a young person in uniform, tell them how much they mean to you. I have a Picture of my friend and me, both young 18 year olds out of boot camp, taken in my front yard. That was 1965, and he was about to head off the Viet Nam, where his life was forever changed. My life saw weekend warrior meetings for the next 6 years, working on a jet flight line.
Today's generation of young men have not known the draft since the end of the Viet Nam war, and we may never see the draft again, but it is only a swipe of the pen away if needed. We have an all volunteer military, so all you young men out there, kiss the ground in thanks, next time you see sailor, airman, soldier, or Marine, because in my generation we all knew we had a military obligation. Because if the draft ever has to be reinstated, that next letter could have your name on it.
Thank you to all Veterans past and present, God Bless you all, God Bless my friend who served in the 101st airborne.