Yesterday a child said to me “all veterans are heroes, even if they don’t get killed.”
And I thought, what a profound comment for an eight year old. Too often society forgets about the sacrifice of all veterans and simply focuses on those who are killed in action. While those killed in action made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and their families continue to make that sacrifice everyday they survive without their loved ones, there is something to be said about the sacrifice of all service men and women.
All veterans are heroes.
All veterans raise their right hand and take that oath to defend our freedom and commit to being sent into harm’s way if called on. All veterans are willing to respond to the call of duty, even when that call requires being separated from the ones they love most for months or even years. All veterans love this country and are willing to put country before self.
All veterans gave some, while others gave all. All veterans who served proudly and then left the military left part of themselves at whatever based they were stationed at, in whatever country they served in, at whatever battlefield they left behind. They also leave part of their hearts with their brothers and sisters who they served besides; those that survived and those who paid that ultimate price for freedom.
In order to defend our freedom the military needs more than just the elite well-trained warriors that many picture in their heads when they think of veterans; they need engineers, doctors, lawyers, scientists, instructors, mechanics, musicians, recruiters, pilots, policemen, dentists, and so many others. A veteran is more than a warrior. It is someone who put service before self and agreed to defend our individual and collective freedoms.
While most are quick to stereotype veterans and pigeonhole them into some criteria that they see in movies or TV shows, it’s important to point out that veterans are not stereotypes. Veterans are individual people who come together for a collective mission and put service before self. Veterans are the true public service who sign on the dotted line, not for the fame or the money but because they truly believe in this great nation. They are willing to give parts of themselves to service and when they return from service, it is on society to give back to them.
It’s a shame that some only chose to honor Veterans on one day a year because that is what is popular to do. Everyone seems to care about veterans when it is politically expedient or there is a public spotlight on veterans but quickly forget about these heroes when it is no longer the popular thing to do.
These heroes didn’t ask for fame or attention when they took the oath but they deserve it, regardless of where or when they served. This Veterans Day and really, every day, say thank you to a veteran for putting service before self and sacrificing their own ambitions for the needs of this great nation.
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