Sunday, November 11, 2007

Thank a Veteran


The first man I will mention is now in his eighties. He moves a bit slower than he did just a few years ago. He shares a nearly sixty year marriage with a woman who suffers from Parkinson’s disease. Back in 1945, he got one of his few leaves from service in the United States Navy to attend the funeral of his older brother who had been killed in action in Germany. The man then came home and spent years in the fields and cotton mills and raised a family with his now ailing bride. That first man I mention is my grandfather, a proud World War II vet who lost his dear brother to that conflict, yet went on to work hard, raise a family and live the typical American life.
My grandfather was not alone in his generation. He had two other brothers who served with honor in Korea. He had a brother in law who lived with the pain of the Battle of the Bulge for his entire life.
My mother’s uncle, my great uncle, Charles, was in the Green Berets and retired out of the military.
Then there is my mother’s brother, and my uncle, who served as a Vietnam era marine. Family members say he was never the same after his service. I did not know him before, but I do know he lives a life now that George Jones could write a song about.
I also think about three of my old friends. There are a few others, but I will limit myself to mentioning three. The first is Pete, who ironically has the same name as my grandfather’s brother. Pete is a committed family man now. Pete did his bit for our country in places like Korea, Bosnia and Haiti. He retired out only to be brought back into service in Afghanistan. He went without complaint and served our country well. Pete did so leaving his wife and children behind to worry and wait. Pete did come home.
The other old friend is Marty, who is finishing up his training as a helicopter pilot after a rather long stint in the National Guard. Marty will be one of the oldest people to complete such training, and in all frankness, I do believe he will see some action again. I grew up beside Marty and think of him as another little brother.
The last is Steven, a friend of mine with a young wife and daughter. Steven served some time in the mid east while his young bride to be waited for him at home. He is now going forward with his life and trying to raise a family and make a living, just like my grandfather.
Steven and Pete are the men trying to go on with life after military service. Marty still stands guard at the gates. They all deserve our thanks.
As we approach this Veteran’s Day, we seem to forget what it is about. The men and women who served our country by protecting the freedoms we have deserve our respect. Just this Saturday night, I anguished over my beloved Gamecocks losing yet another game. But without Grandpa, Uncle Charles, Uncle Pete, Uncle Floyd, Uncle Junior, Uncle Doug, my friends Pete, Marty and Steven, and so many like them, I would not have the luxury of watching a football game, much less caring about the outcome.
Perhaps the elderly man that lives down the street from you deserves a thank you. Perhaps it is the middle aged guy who still serves in the National Guard. Perhaps it is the young man or woman down the street who just got home from Iraq or Afghanistan.
Regardless, I urge you to put your political feelings aside and say thank you to a veteran. They are the reason we are able to live the lives we do. They come from walks of life. They come from every type of community. They deserve the full measure of our respect and gratitude.
To the men and women who have served in the military, I say with pride, respect and gratitude, “THANK YOU!”

3 comments:

  1. Having you and Earl rounded up and shot is the best argument for communism. What a great world it would be if the two of you could be shot and your mindless blogs silenced. There is something to learn from Castro.

    Formerly LC

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  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  3. Nice comment, Mr. McCarty. Thank you for saying thank you to those that served.

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