While today is the state and federal day to observe it, tomorrow, 11 Nov 2017, is actually Veterans Day in the US.
Yesterday, over two different sessions, I stood on a stage in front of several hundred children and their parents. I stood up there to talk about Veterans Day and what it means. I stood up to make certain that the next generation has an understanding of what it means to be a Veteran, or at least these schoolchildren. The same ones that I talk to every year, refusing to allow the school not to have a Veterans Day Program, whether my son still attends there or not.
I do it because of multiple reasons, first off, I’m proud to have served my country, second, they need to know the meaning behind Veterans Day. That it is not just another day off from school and not just another three-day weekend to enjoy doing nothing. In this day and time, it would be easy for them to lose sight over the sacrifice that men and women alike have made to ensure their freedom. Especially given the rampant disrespect that so many so called “celebrities”, “role models” and politicians (both liberal and conservative alike) are showing these days.
I stood up on that stage and talked about sacrifice, and what it meant to serve my country. I talked about my family legacy stretching back as far as I could remember and what it meant to them to serve our country. It was at that point, in the first session, that I nearly lost it on stage. Why? Because as I was talking about my own father (and his brothers), in through the door comes walking my nearly 80-year old father. It was all I could do to maintain my composure, yet, maintain my composure I did.
In that instant of seeing him walk through the door, all the memories of the times that I heard him screaming in his sleep flooded through me. The aftereffects of several tours in Vietnam. In that instant, I thought of my uncle, who died slowly from his exposure to Agent Orange. In that instant, I thought of my own struggles and my own (now labeled) PTSD. Yet, at the same time, when all those thoughts were flooding me, I realized…none of us would have done anything different. None of us were drafted. It was our choice, and despite the cost or sacrifice, it was choice that each of us would gladly make again (I know this because we have discussed it several times over the years).
So, as I write this, I ask that whatever your political leanings may be, remember your freedom doesn’t come free. Remember, that someone had/has to pay the price that allows you all the rights you have now. Even the right to be disrespectful to the freedoms you take for granted. Enough about that though.
Since I will be in happy place over the weekend where I have no signal and nothing but fresh mountain air. Happy Veterans Day to all my fellow veterans.
© AC Elliott, 10 Nov 17