Friday, November 11, 2005

Calling All Vets ...

Happy Veteran's Day. Man, what a week. Yesterday's post brought forth some of the best comments ever, and it led me to some other great posts and tributes. Some of you (and you know who you are) brought some tears to my eyes. And I thank you.

Today, we pause to remember the nation's veterans. In particular, my thoughts are with those who have fought in the nation's wars. It is good that we remember ... and are reminded to remember. Have you noticed that people tend to forget what they should remember and vice versa? Funny.

But we should remember. Those who have been there and served, particularly those of you who have done so in wartime, have made this great American experiment a reality. For the longer we live, we see more and more evidence that the free are swimming upstream, and the enemies of freedom have many structural advantages and are constantly on the prowl. The enlightened among us have taught that as mankind advanced this would not be so. They have been proven wrong ... over and over again.

What to make of this? To remain free, this nation will have to keep producing people who are willing to put it all on the line. So, how do we produce new generations of heroes? It starts in families. It continues with friends. It continues still with neighbors. And it continues on with even acquaintances.

Veterans should tell their stories. Tell people where you served and what you did. Tell them why you served. Tell your kids. Talk to your friends. Tell people about the moments that still make you cry. Live out who you are. Speak up when appropriate about the value, pride, and honor of wearing the uniform of the United States military.

We need to see. We need to hear. And for those who are doing it already, great. Keep on doing it. We need you.

Each vet has a story to tell. I know.

When I was seven, my family was in crisis. So, I went to Arizona to spend the summer with my uncle. He was a Viet Nam vet, a Marine, a prior-enlisted company commander who did two tours. I later learned he also had two Bronze Stars and a Silver Star.

During that summer, my uncle used to wake me up early -- usually with some saying about the value of getting up early and the vice of sleeping too much -- to go out and feed the horses. He was chipper and cheerful, and he loved the Marine Corps. (Man, he still does, too.) He would read me snippets ... they often sounded strange and undiscernible at the time ... out of the Marine Corps Gazette. And then he would say, "What do you think of that, little buddy? The Marines are looking for good young men. Maybe you can grow up and be one some day." At times, I thought he was a bit corny, but I respected him. I knew that my uncle had a purpose much higher than himself and this affected me in ways I didn't fully understand at the time.

Later, when I when I was making the decision (a strange one, indeed, to my contemporaries) to go into the USMC, I recalled my uncle. His encouragement and example were big factors, along with the patriotism instilled in me by dad, that led me to sign up.

I never regretted it, and I wouldn't have missed it for anything. Actually, maybe I would have missed it but for the words and example of a vet.

See you next week.