I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.
11-11-11. It’s an auspicious day – not only because our calendars reveal a unusual alignment of numbers – but because it’s Veterans Day. It’s not a “Hallmark” holiday. And it’s not a church holiday. It’s an occasion that our government created to honor the ~25 million U.S. citizens who have served in uniform, on active duty.
Recognition for those who’ve served has a long tradition, dating back to our very first General, George Washington. He gave purple strips of ribbon to those who served with extraordinary merit in the Continental Army. That was the precedent for the “Purple Heart” we know today – the medal that military leaders have awarded to those wounded or killed in action in the nine wars of the past century.
Of course, very few veterans receive a Purple Heart. As the saying goes, “All gave some; some gave all.” And all deserve some recognition for standing strong to ensure we maintain the freedoms and blessings that are uniquely American.
So today, at Chicago’s Soldier Field, I’ll be marking the occasion with others who’ve served. Men and women who sacrificed in times of war – as well as in times of peace – to preserve the freedoms we cherish.
Interestingly, it seems that because Iraq and Afghanistan have been a reality of our post-9-11 lives for 10 years, people link the term “veteran” to young people who’ve been involved in the War on Terror. It’s understandable. After all, these soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines have fought the longest war in U.S. history. However, the veteran community is much more multifaceted.
Vets are just as diverse as our nation’s population. They come from all generations and all walks of life. Some volunteered. Others were drafted. Some are heroes who displayed uncommon valor on the front lines. Others trained tirelessly to be ready – but never were called into action. And many served in desk jobs at home or abroad, keeping the military’s administrative gears turning in countless ways.
Regardless, they’re all connected by a common thread: None of them walked away from their responsibility to do what our nation asked of them. No matter what role they played in the fabric of our armed forces, they showed up. It’s impossible to defend a nation’s principles on any battlefield unless someone is willing to show up.
For more than 200 years, our veterans have been willing to do the heavy lifting wherever the military required them to be. And for that, I am honored to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with my sisters and brothers in arms – today and every day.
In short – a world without veterans would be a world without any real chance of a lasting peace. By that definition, every time a person in uniform has reported for duty and simply followed orders – it was a small but noble act that protected our way of life.
May God bless every one of our veterans – and watch over those who are deployed until their mission is complete.
P.P.S. I invite you to discuss freedom, faith, troop support and related issues with me at my “Afghan Journal” Facebook Forum: http://Facebook.com/AfghanJournal.
P.S. To read about my experience in training Afghan security forces in a remote region near Pakistan – see my book at Amazon.com: “Afghan Journal: A Soldier’s Year in Afghanistan.”