He’s your kid’s high school coach. He’s the mechanic that changes your car’s oil. He’s the policeman you call when you hear things that go bump in the night. She’s the nurse working in the hospital emergency room. He’s the homeless guy shuffling down the street in rags. He’s your brother, your sister, your neighbor, and your boss. He’s the American veteran, and today is his day.

He (and when I say he, I actually mean both genders) usually joined the military or was drafted fresh out of school, and started growing up the first time his feet stepped out of the bus and onto the ground at boot camp. There, his head was shaved, he got a series of inoculations, he was shouted at from every direction at once, and he was shoved into a uniform way too big for him. Over the next few weeks he learned how to march, how to salute, how to fire a machine gun, and how to render first aid to a wounded comrade. He lost part of his individuality as the training process broke him down and then rebuilt him into part of a cohesive team. He started to stand a little taller, look a little more confident, and shed a lot of his childhood.

After months of training, he found himself assigned to his first duty station. Sometimes it was a cushy stateside billet. Other times it was to a foreign land where his horizons were quickly expanded. Sometimes it was to a combat zone, and only a few months after he stepped out of a classroom, he was dodging bullets and watching his friends die around him. He finished growing up real fast.

If he was lucky, he finished his time in uniform and came home in one piece. If he was smart, he took advantage of the opportunities his service provided him to get an education and learn skills that would help him succeed in the civilian workforce. Sometimes, after experiencing life outside his hometown, he decided that civilian life wasn’t all that appealing anymore and reenlisted, making the military a career.

He may have seen combat in Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf, or Afghanistan. He may have been forced to do horrific things just to stay alive. He may have shed his blood for you and for me. Or he may have driven a truck, served food in a mess hall, maintained complex computer equipment, or kept aircraft in flying condition.

He may have come home with a chest full of medals, or he may have earned little more than a marksmanship badge. He may have walked through fire, or been a mediocre soldier who just did his job and put in his time. It doesn’t matter, he (or she) is a veteran. They all stepped up to the plate when their country needed them. He’s a hero, and he deserves your respect.

You may disagree with our current President, but it’s because of that kid that you can express your dissatisfaction publicly. You may be gay or straight, black or white, rich or poor. But whatever you are, it’s because of him that you can live your life the way you want to, not the way some dictator says you must.

If you slept peacefully in your own bed last night, and if you woke up this morning and didn’t have to bow down to anyone, it’s because of that kid I told you about.

You’ve heard it many times, but it is never more appropriate than today. If you love your freedom, thank a vet.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

25 Comments on Thank A Vet

  1. Joseph Jones says:

    THANK YOU NICK FOR YOUR SERVICE!

  2. Llana says:

    My brother, Robert, enlisted in the U.S. Air Force as a young man, served six years, and later attended college using his military benefits. After graduation as a civil engineer, he re-entered the service, where he remains all these years later as a project manager, licensed “professional engineer”, and career officer.

    Robert is serving overseas today. I plan to send this post to him and add my own thanks to him for his twenty-plus years of conscientious service.

    Thank you, Nick, for all your thoughtful words here and for your own honorable service.

  3. Peter Genereaux says:

    Nick:

    THANKS for the reminder, salute and your tireless, compelling writing to us!

  4. SAL Bellomo says:

    Hi Nick you all ways come thought with the right words , and for being in American and all the “””Vet’s””” that give it to us day after day GET-ER DONE

  5. Glen says:

    Nick, thank for your service and “Welcome home, brother !!!”

  6. Amen to all of that. I was never privileged to serve, although at the time I wouldn’t have called it a privilege. But I join with this nation in saying thanks to you and all the others.

  7. Well said, Nick, well said. As the mom of a soldier, I sure appreciate how you always remember our military personnel and their families.

    Nick, thank you for your service during one of our ugliest wars. I am sending you a hug!!

    As many say, freedom isn’t free and I’m grateful for those who have paid a price for me to enjoy it.

  8. Berni says:

    Thank you just doesn’t seem like enough. I think we need to show it every day. When we see someone in uniform don’t turn away, not knowing what to say. Walk up and shake their hand and tell them thank you. Show them that we respect them.
    I bow my head and close my eyes and pray every night for them all past and present. So today I too would like to say THANK YOU.

  9. Nick – Just to be redundant thanks for your thoughts and
    THANK YOU for your service

  10. “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
    ♥ Remembering our Veterans ♥ Much respect and gratitude goes out to you and all other men/women in uniform. Thank you.

  11. Jim Mossman says:

    I talked to my brother last nite and he says it makes him mad that he has to go to work today, but all govenment offices are closed and the odds are most of them never served.
    God bless all of us who did and will
    I am proud to have served my country.

  12. Cathy K says:

    From a fellow Veteran…thank you, also…

  13. Sam Weibel says:

    Nick, I have been folowing your blog for a short time and see you are not afraid to say whats on your mind, also I assume you are like me a Viet Nam Vet, As such I salute you and thank you for your service to your country, I had to laugh, last year I recieved a medal in the mail from the State of Missori for service during the Viet Nam war,40 years late, oh well it was an election year./

  14. Kay F Brown says:

    Nick,

    Thanks to you today…..it’s your day….such a heartfelt and oh so true article. Our prayers and thoughts of thankfulness are always with our soldiers and veterans. This coming from a thankful mother of an Iraqi Freedom Veteran….

  15. Linda Mason says:

    Thank you Nick. My hubby served 4 years in the Air Force during Viet Nam. My dad in the Navy during WW2, my father in law in the Marines during WW2. Thank you to them and all the other’s that are or have served. This country wouldn’t be what it is today without our brave men protecting our rights.

  16. Robert Hines says:

    Nick I’ll never agree with your politics, and have not particularly liked you the two times we met. But on this day, I thank you for your service to America and to my family at a terrible time in our history.

  17. MichaelG says:

    You can all flame me, but I hate that phrase “if you love your freedom, thank a vet.”

    We became independent of England due to ordinary citizens who fought, led by some outstanding people who we now call our “Founding Fathers.”

    We grew peacefully as a nation, even purchasing land from France instead of conquering it. (The Spanish-American war was a lapse back into the age-old pattern of taking what we wanted.)

    We initially opted out of both World Wars, and there are historians who think WWI would have ended in 1916 if we’d stayed out of it.

    We congratulate ourselves on what we did in WWII, but there’s no denying that it would have been better for everyone if it had never happened. In any case, we weren’t defending our own freedom, we were saving our allies. Other than Pearl Harbor, the U.S. was never under attack.

    The Cold War with the USSR was a series of lies and proxy wars (like Viet Nam, which I don’t think you are glad you fought) from start to finish. In the end, we didn’t “win” it — the Soviet Union fell apart from its own internal problems.

    And now we’re at war in Iraq and Afghanistan. We don’t know exactly what we want to accomplish there, how long it will take, or how many lives we’ll spend (ours and theirs) before we leave. We’re just afraid to back down.

    So I can’t actually think of a case where vets preserved our freedom, as if we’d have lost it, or been conquered by some other country, without their efforts.

    In every war, the bravery of vets is used as an excuse to fight. But loving the vets is not the same as loving a war. And having a huge military did not create a free country.

    We’re free because of who we are, and we fight when we have to for the same reason. The vets didn’t create the freedom, they are an expression of it. And they shouldn’t be used as a stage prop to get Americans to support pointless wars.

  18. Dave Bossert says:

    My nephew Andrew Bossert was killed in Iraq. I heard the news on my car radio and couldn’t believe it. I too am a Viet Nam Vet and count my lucky stars to be back home. Thank you Nick for your service and all of the veterans who served. Those that gave the ultimate sacrifice should be honored today and any day.

  19. Chuck Johnson says:

    About that growing peacefully, MichaelG… did you ever talk to a Native American? They might disagree.

  20. Mike Loscher says:

    Nick, thank for your service and “Welcome home, brother. Also thanks for your bad Nick blog.

  21. Patty Knott says:

    Thanks to my Dad for WW2,Thanks to my husband for Korea, Thanks to Nick for Viet Nam and thanks to our son who is in Iraq right now. I would be really nice if my grandkids did not have to serve.

  22. Bobbi W says:

    Thank you Bad Nick for remembering the many women who have served too. And thank you for your time in uniform and for your blog that makes us think even when it is about things we’d maybe rather not have to think about.

  23. Jim Guld says:

    I recently visited my Mother’s grave in Arlington National Cemetery. That was my Veterans Day. Very emotional to see so many white stones, all with service men and women beneath. Pictures on our blog http://bit.ly/QNaVI.
    Nice article. Thanks for everything, Nick.

  24. Steve says:

    War is an atrocity.
    When are women going to put an end to it? Men are too stupid and self-absorbed.
    Women, the technology for communication and collaboration is at hand. Use it. Make the suffering end. Only you have the power.

    Nick, I appreciate your service, and all my fellow Americans who have served.

  25. Jack says:

    I’m guessing MichaelG never served in the military. Just sayin’…

Leave a Reply