What's It All About?

Reprinted from PN November 2008

On Veterans Day, November 11, when Americans pause to honor our military personnel, some may ask, "Why this special day?" Many people—including schoolchildren—have the right answer.

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As I thought about subjects I need to write about, I kept coming back to this: What's it all about, really? My thoughts went to Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, Patriots Day, and Vet­erans Day. I realized how proud I am to be an American citizen, a military retiree, a veteran—and to live in the greatest country in the world. With all the faults this country has, it is still the best, with so many freedoms and rights.

On top of all that, I am a member of Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) and the Zia PVA chapter in Albuquerque, N.M. And to carry the title of Zia PVA president just adds to the glory I feel as I think about all the important days I mentioned earlier.

I want to thank you, veterans and your families, for all you have done for this country, because you've helped make this a free nation and have kept it that way for years. Those before us, those of our generation, and those in the future can be proud of being the most important citizens who wore the uniform or helped those in uniform to serve better. It took every person in every branch of the military, in peacetime and wartime, to make this a free nation and to maintain such freedom. It took strong families supporting each serviceman or -woman so that person could give his or her all to serving this country.

I have met many military and veteran families and have been blessed beyond imagination by having known them all. I gained strength from each and was able to do a better job because of their assistance in many ways. As the important days mentioned earlier come about, I am reminded of all those individuals and how sad it is so many are deceased. When I read the obits in the paper, I am reminded that we are here for only a short time and need to make the best of our lives.

I vote in all elections because I have an obligation to use my rights and benefits, as so many gave so much to help ensure I have such freedoms. By voting I have the right to disagree with elected officials. Many times I vote not for someone but against what I think is the best of two evils.

Many of my friends I served with or have known in my church or various service organizations have passed away, and I really miss them. I believe the worst times for me are on Memorial and Veterans Days, because it is so easy to remember then. We need to remember those living veterans as well as those deceased because they did so much to help this nation remain a free country.

As veterans we certainly need to remember our own active duty and fully support those serving today. We don't need to believe in the war, but we need to support those who have no choice but to be there; we have been there and done that and know how tough it is and how it feels when we are supported.

We need to fight for better benefits for those of us who have served, and we need to fight for better equipment for those serving today, wherever that may be. We need to fight for a better VA budget so all veterans can get treatment second to none. As the important days mentioned earlier come around each year, let's remember those we should honor. Let's remember the families of those who have gone on before us. Tell veterans or active-duty servicemembers and their families that we are proud of them and what they have done for this nation.

As I recall our veterans and military, I am reminded of what some people in the past have commented:

General Robert E. Lee—"There is a true glory and a true honor: the glory of duty done, the honor of integrity of principle."

Former President John F. Kennedy—"We dare not forget that we are heirs of that first revolution."

Admiral Chester Nimitz—"They fought together as brothers-in-arms, they died together, and now they sleep side by side. To them we have a solemn obligation."

Former President Franklin D. Roosevelt—"In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved."

Former President James A. Garfield—"For love of country, they accepted death."

I again thank each of you for your service to this country. I am proud you served with honor and that your name will go down in history for making the U.S.A. a free nation and helping keep it that way. The flag still waves because you were willing to fight.

The next time you salute the flag to show honor and respect to others, know that many more people are saluting the flag to show honor and respect to you. You deserve to be recognized. Thanks!


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