Monday, November 10, 2008
Honoring Those Who Served --Have You Thanked a Veteran Today?
November 11th holds special significance for the US Military and anybody who remembers and is cognizant of the special character of military service. November 11th is Veterans’ Day. It’s a holiday that does not get much press anymore, but remains extremely important.
November 11th was initially known as Armistice Day. It celebrated the date that on the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, that The Great War, “The War to End All Wars,” came to a close. World War I was obviously not the war to end all wars, but it remained a powerful emotional event for those involved, especially Europe.
Today it has been expanded to honor all of America’s veterans here in the United States. It is especially poignant as we realize that as a nation we only have one remaining World War I veteran still living. The Greatest Generation, those that answered their nation’s call to fight for freedom in World War II, is dwindling in numbers and in a few decades we will no longer have them nor their example. We have the veterans of Korea, Vietnam, and numerous other wars and small engagements fought by the United States throughout the Cold War. Now we have added veterans of the GWOT (Global War on Terrorism) to those who we honor at Veterans Day because they continue the proud service exemplified by their forefathers in military service.
I think on Veterans’ Day it is a good time to reflect on what those veterans have given us and our debt to them.
The following sentiments have been attributed to Senator Zell Miller:
“It is the Soldier, not the reporter,
who has given us the freedom of the press.
It is the Soldier, not the poet,
who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the Soldier, not the agitator,
who has given us the freedom to protest.
It is the Soldier who salutes the flag,
serves beneath the flag,
whose coffin is draped by the flag,
who gives that protester the freedom
to abuse and burn that flag.”
The author of the following remains anonymous and has been forwarded countless times online and I figured deserved posting here:
THE FINAL INSPECTION
From an old soldier, a friend; dedicated to all that have served.
(see note below.)
The soldier stood and faced his God
Which must always come to pass
He hoped his shoes were shining
Just as brightly as his brass
"Step forward now you soldier,
How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek,
And to my church have you been true?"
The soldier squared his shoulders and said,
"No Lord, I guess I ain't,
Because those of us who carry guns,
Can't always be saints
"I've had to work most Sundays
And at times my talk was tough
And sometimes I've been violent
Because the streets were awfully rough"
But I never took a penny,
That wasn’t mine to keep
Though I worked a lot of overtime
When the bills just got to steep,
And I never passed a cry for help
Although, at times I shook with fear
And sometimes, God forgive
I've wept unmanly tears
I know I don't deserve a place
Among the people here
That never wanted me around
Except to calm there fears
If you have a place for me here O' Lord
It needn't be so grand
I've never expected, or had so much
But if you don't I'll understand"
There was a silence all around the throne
Where the Saints had often trod
As this soldier waited quietly
For the judgment from his God
"Step forward now you soldier,
You've borne your burdens well
Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,
You've done your time in Hell"
So spend today thanking veterans of past wars for the freedoms you cherish and listen to a little Lee Greenwood to get your patriotic blood flowing.
And finally, I wish the United States Marine Corps a Happy Birthday!