We honor our veterans today, for the freedoms they’ve ensured; for the protection they give; for the call they bravely and without question answer; for their willingness to offer their own life in the name of our country.
In unselfish and countless ways, men and women throughout our history have offered themselves to the call to duty, one that has taken them across the world and into dangerous, violent places where their fates were — and continue to be — uncertain, their return home not always likely.
One cannot celebrate Veterans Day today without thinking of the countless thousands of men and women currently in harm’s way in places like Afghanistan. Like those who came before them, these brave soldiers are putting their lives on the line each and every day in service to their country, in service to each of us.
We may question why, as we’ve done throughout history, but we should never question the loyalty, the selfless acts of bravery and the willingness to serve that each of those in uniform are giving.
Today, as we contemplate all that has happened in our country, and all those who have given so much of themselves, let us remember with love and respect our veterans. Let us lift our voices in praise and prayer for the hundreds of thousands of men and women across this country who, though perhaps frightened and unsure, donned bright, shiny uniforms, highly polished boots and a patriotic spirit as they headed off to military bases at home and abroad to fight for things we cherish yet never really appreciated as we should.
They waded through oceans, trampled through vines and marsh, dodged bullets — and took some — land mines and waiting ambushes and watched as their comrades were shot down, maimed or killed, taken away instantly and painfully with the flash of a grenade or the rat-ta-tat-tat of a machine gun.
Many never came home. Others did, but they brought untold scars of sights seen, emotions pent up and a life too difficult to explain.
Those who didn’t return remain the young, smartly dressed men and women adorning faded photographs, never to be old, never to know children, never to understand what their sacrifices have meant to their country and to all those for generations to come.
The others are older now, some with well-weathered faces and hands, hands which battled on the front lines, hands which acted as a shield to protect each of us and our country, hands which tell the story of the tragedies they experienced, the endurance they had, the love and patriotism they felt and, to this day, still feel.
Their faces, too, paint a picture of courage and honor. Though often animated and kind, thoughtful and thought-provoking, their faces often change quickly, with the sound of a plane, the backfiring of a car, a shot from a gun. It is then that the stories come alive again, and their faces tell us of battles lost and wars won.
We owe them so much, yet compared to the prices they have paid and continue to pay, we have little to give.
But they deserve our remembrance; they merit our respect, our love and our benevolence. They have earned our thanks.