Veterans day seems to be a day of celebration for a lot of people. I think that it is celebrating that America is so worth fighting for, and worth trying to protect. The sad fact is that there needs to be Veterans Day parades because the percentage of actual Veterans to say nothing of combat veterans is so low. So we Veterans get dressed up, and put on the "dog and pony" show which a lot of us don't mind, because as we age we like to remember the young strapping lads and fine young ladies we used to be. For some, the uniform, the medals or the recognition is validation of wounds both physical and psychological, in service to this great nation.
I have traveled to almost every state. Americans despite ethnic background, despite political leanings, and despite religious beliefs or lack thereof realize that America is something truly special. Its not just the shades of fall in the Maine forests. Or the Bostonians that don't want to pronounce their "R"s. It's not something you find in the neon signs of Miami, or the swamps of the everglades. It's not something you find in the Cornfields of Iowa, Indiana or Illinois, or the Great Plains of Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. It can't be defined by the evergreen forests of Oregon Washington and California, nor in the desert sunsets of Arizona and New Mexico. The Beaches of Hawaii, while stunning do not hold the secret of why this nation produces so many people willing to die, if needs be, to defend it.
It is the people. Get stuck on the highway in West Virginia or Pennsylvania, and you'll see, before long some complete stranger comes along to help. Walk into any Church Mosque or Synagogue and tell them you're in trouble and about to lose everything. Look at the faces of children who go to bed secure in the knowledge that they are safe. Look at any mall in America and see the young men and women, free to love who they please without fear.
Old soldiers lose their physique, their once lean muscles give way to well earned bellies. They never again have to hurry up and wait. They'll never again eat chow that seems to have a life of its own, wonder why there are fewer and fewer puppies around the mess tent, or fight off the mice for their meal. Eggs will come in actual eggs not in long tubes of . . . something. Those old soldier's joints will be stiff, and sore from years of staying at peak condition, they'll have aches and pains they never complain about but feel all the same. Those old soldiers may fade from the public consciousness, as time passes their conflicts slowly forgotten by a society that has an ever shorter attention span, but they'll know what they've done.
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