On Thursday, Nov. 11, we honor them all. War heroes, and the more common “snuffy’s” who “merely served.” Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, Veterans Day, it is all of those. We remember our veterans who have stood between us and those who wish us harm, as they have done since this Country was just a dream and who remain on their watch today.
Many who served made the ultimate sacrifice, dying in mud or sand, in frozen forests, or on the great seas of this world. And a better writer than me penned “death be not proud.” But service is. Keeping the faith is. Semper fi, or “Always Faithful” is proud and we are proud of all who served. This week we honor them.
In 1915 Canadian Army Officer, John McCrae wrote a poem “In Flanders Fields,” which recognizes the sacrifice, and in part says: “We are the dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved, and now we lie in Flanders Fields.”
Of those who lived on some became Presidents, or captains of industry. Others work as teachers, or in law enforcement, and some sell paint, or build roads. They are men and women among us everywhere. They are also on the streets and disproportionately in our food kitchens and homeless shelters.
Walking the paths at Arlington National Cemetery, or viewing the 58,198 names on the “The Wall” in Washington, D.C. are quiet reminders of the cost of our daily freedoms. My sister lives next to the Chickamauga, (Georgia) Civil War Battlefield, and a day there on horseback is a history lesson about men and courage.
Courage also is Major Bernard Fisher, entering the Air Force from little Kuna, Idaho, and winning the Medal of Honor, in 1966, flying in support of a Special Forces camp in the A Shau Valley, just off the Laos border. His mission and exploits are storybook heroic, yet it is stepping forward and joining the service that we honor first and foremost. All vets, all levels of service, all contributions. None are insignificant.
When I enlisted in 1968, it was in keeping with the fact that Tomlin’s had served in every conflict since the Spanish-American War, a streak that has now ended. Today, 42 years later, that day remains one of my proudest. There have been other achievements and accomplishments, but stepping forward can never be taken away.
Similarly, Nov. 11, each year we honor all who have done so, with a special thought and prayer for those who when stepping forward were on an unknowing countdown to the final steps they would take in defense of us all.
De Oppresso Liber