Each one of us, as Americans, owes a debt that we can never repay. A debt that grows larger every day.
I’m not talking about the national debt, or out of control budgets, or anything else of a political or financial nature. I’m talking about the debt that we all owe to every man and woman who ever put on a uniform and served our country.
It doesn’t matter if they were Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine, Coast Guard, or Merchant Marine. It doesn’t matter if they were drafted, enlisted, or were part of a National Guard or Reserve unit. It doesn’t matter if they waded ashore at Omaha Beach, walked a jungle trail in Viet Nam, served on a flight line in Thailand, or peeled potatoes on KP duty at Fort Dix, New Jersey.
Because if it wasn’t for these brave men and women, who left their homes and families behind to answer duty’s call, we wouldn’t have the freedoms we do today to worship as we choose, to squabble over politics, to sleep safely in our own homes at night, and to live our lives with a freedom unknown by most of people in the world.
Our veterans are tall and short, fat and thin, young and old, male and female, gay and straight, Christian, Jew, and agnostic. Many are proud of their service and wear caps or put bumper stickers on their cars that tell you so. Others never say a word about that time in their lives.
Some did their time and came home and picked up their lives where they left off, some found a home in the military and made it a career, others saw changes that needed made in our society and our government, and worked to make them happen.
Our veterans live in comfortable ranch houses, sprawling mansions, rundown cabins, mobile homes, in cardboard boxes under bridges, and in prison cells.
Millions of our nation’s war veterans came home with physical or psychological problems. Some hide their scars, and some have scars that cannot be hidden. Some become recluses and withdraw from society, some still wake up in the dark with cold sweats and nightmares, and some use anger or humor to drive away their personal demons when they come to call.
But no matter when or where their service was, or how they have lived since then, there are two things that all of these men and women have in common – they stepped up to the plate when they were needed, and we all owe them a debt that we can never repay.
Yeah, I know you’ve heard it a million times before, but it has never been truer than it is today; if you love your freedom, thank a vet.
To all of my brothers and sisters who served America, from the bottom of my heart I say Thank You and Welcome Home.