I grew up a Navy Brat. If you did not grow up as a military dependent, you really can’t understand how this has impacted my life. One small way this affects me is that Memorial Day really means something; my father’s chosen profession is honored.
My grandfather, father, uncle, sister, and three cousins are all veterans. My father’s favorite cousin was killed on the beach at Omaha. Those are the kinds of sacrifices previous generations made to maintain our freedom. The military is so small now, few of us are touched by the ongoing conflicts. For that we should be grateful. But for those who fight and to those who send their sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, sisters and brothers into harm’s way, we should be doubly grateful.
When I see a person wearing a veteran’s ballcap, or a veteran is identified to me, I often thank them for their service. They are surprised and pleased by this acknowledgement. I frequently say to parents of soldiers and sailors oversees or newly recruited, “God bless them. And God bless you.” They appreciate the gesture.
Our citizenry made the mistake of not welcoming our Vietnam War veterans home as the war-weary warriors they were. Instead, we treated them as criminals or pariahs although all they did was follow the orders of those we elected to power. Hopefully, we learned that lesson.
War is a far-away nuisance for most Americans; not a life or death struggle. Let us not forget that even Afghanistan and Iraq are fought in our name. Thank them. They deserve so much more, but acknowledgement will go a long way.