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They will know...

Posted: October 31, 2013 4:27 p.m.
Updated: November 1, 2013 5:00 a.m.

Several days ago, the all too familiar sound of children fighting came from the other room in my house, a predictable occurrence for most parents. My 9-year-old twins were “debating” over who would put on their grandfather’s United States Marine Corp uniform first and who would it fit best. Gender and age won out on the uniform; however, the loser would be first to hold granddad’s Marine KA-BAR knife. Of course, capturing this on a cell phone was quickly requested and answered. I must say the transient moment was surreal in a way. Was it reminding me of how quickly time was racing by? Or perhaps this moment brought forward the realization my children would never know the great man behind this uniform. They would never know the hero behind this olive-colored, wool facade. They would never know the courageous 19-year-old who saw things 19-year-olds should never see in a lifetime. They would never know the bravery and heroism of their grandfather and his fellow Marines as they battled for the island of Iwo Jima in Operation Detachment. They would never know the story of their daddy’s daddy as he stood proud as a Marine watching the valor of six United States servicemen raise Old Glory atop Mount Suribachi. They would never know the greatness of this man who served his country as a boy. They would never know this moral fiber of this United States veteran. But they can know. They can listen and learn from the many stories we tell and will tell of our heroes, our veterans. It is about making sure that as our children learn their history lessons and traditions of our great country, they know none of it would be possible without our veterans.

There are many definitions of the word “veteran” -- “expert,” “trouper,” “past master,” “an old soldier who has seen long service,” “a person who has served or is serving in the armed forces.” I happen to like the following definition: “A veteran is someone who, at one point in his/her life, wrote a blank check made payable to ‘The United States of America,’ for an amount of ‘up to and including my life.’” The latter seems a worthy depiction as we honor the past and present members of the world’s strongest power, the United States military. On Veteran’s Day and every other day of the year, we must bring attention to those we should remember and never take for granted -- our defenders; the very ones who have sworn to uphold the security of the United States in the past and in the present. Our veterans are drawn from many generations and backgrounds. They have protected our freedoms with their service and sacrifice. From Valley Forge to Vietnam, from Berlin to Baghdad, from Kuwait to Kabul, our veterans have stood watch over America. Our veterans understand the meaning of personal accountability, loyalty, and shared sacrifice. Whether they have served at home or abroad, in peace or in war, whether they live among us or rest in valor beneath our sacred ground, they assume the responsibility of maintaining the finest fighting force in the world today. Many have known the hardships and the fears and the losses of war, along with their families.

America must keep its word to our veterans as we pay them respect and honor on this Veteran’s Day, and every day after. It is a day set aside to honor not just those who have fought for us in battle, but for all the outstanding men and women who served and serve in our nation’s Armed Forces since our founding more than 237 years ago. They are ordinary men and women who have left their families, their homes, their jobs, their lives, not for recognition or fame or even the esteem we give them, but to protect our home and to maintain the way of life we enjoy.

So to the more than 21 million United States veterans, we raise our flags to you, we salute you, we thank you today, on Veteran’s Day, and all our days. You serve a mighty cause and for this you have our lasting gratitude and respect.

They will know….

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