Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veterans: We Can Never Pay Them Back

Trigger Warning:
Semper Fi
Veterans Day is usually associated with a couple of things-days off from school, cookouts, and sales.  Oh yeah, it's also the day we've set aside to honor our nation's fighting men.  We all make the usual platitudes about how much we honor and respect those that have risked, and continue to risk, their lives for this country.  Everyone always says how grateful they are in between mouthfuls of hot dogs and burgers.  We post on Facebook and tweet on Twitter as we rush off to the next sale at the next big retail outlet.  Everyone makes it a point of letting everyone else know how much they appreciate the military.

The next day, though, it's back to business as usual.  We go back to our reality TV shows and our video games.  We flip on TMZ to find out just what the hell the Kardashians are up to today.  Americans have become experts at squandering the freedom that so many have fought and died for.

It's not surprising, really.  Veterans have experienced things that almost none of us will ever have to deal with.  Most of us have never been uprooted from our nation and culture, and sent halfway around the world.  Most of us have never had to be away from our families for months or years at a time.  Most of us have never been shot at or worse, severely wounded or injured.  Most of us have never had to watch a friend die.  Most of us have never had to kill.  Certainly most of us would never have volunteered to be subjected to any of that.  The experiences of a veteran are so far outside the norm for any American that a great many of us would rather not think about it.

So what?  Is this a call to give our troops more days out of the calendar to honor them?  No, because quite frankly we could give them every damn day out of the year if we wanted to.  It still wouldn't be enough to show the depth of our appreciation.  Our veterans deserve our respect, our admiration, our appreciation, and so much more.  It's almost impossible, I think, for us as a nation to be able to do for them exactly what they have done for us.

What we can do is reflect just a little deeper on what our vets have had to do for this country.  We need to be mindful of what they will hopefully continue to do for this country for generations.  America needs to ensure that we will always have a crop of young men and women willing to make the ultimate sacrifice so that their brothers and sisters can continue to be safe and free.  We can do that by supporting our sons and daughters when they make that fateful decision.  We can do that by standing by them when they are away.  When our veterans finally do come home, whether carrying a flag or with one draped over them, we can ensure that they and their families are taken care of.  

If we can do that, we'll go a long way towards paying off the debt that we owe these brave men and women.

In closing, here's a few words from a great patriot, Ronald Reagan:

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