What is a Vet?

I heard this story for the first time when I was in high school and it has stuck with me throughout the years.  I bring it out every year and read it again and again and it always seems to have the same powerful affect. I am grateful for all those who have served and are serving for our nation!

Most who know me know that I am quite the patriot. I still stand when I hear the National Anthem and when the Colors enter a room! I still take seriously the rules for presenting and displaying the flag! (yes, there are actually rules & laws on how to properly display the American flag) and I always try to identify and thank those who have served this great country in defending it’s freedoms.

Whether you are left or right, in a blue state or red state, support the military actions around the world or fight for your idea of peace at all costs…the reality is that men and women have had to fight! Men & women have had to grab a weapon, draw a line and say, “Not today!” We are a free nation because men & women were willing to risk their lives, travel to a new land and defend it with their lives because of this “idea” of being FREE! Slavery was abolished because men and women believed and fought for the idea that ALL men were created equal! So thank you!

Some veterans bear visible signs of their service: a missing limb, a jagged scar, a certain look in the eye.

Others may carry the evidence inside them: a pin holding a bone together, a piece of shrapnel in the leg- or perhaps another sort of inner steel: the soul’s ally forged in the refinery of adversity.

Except in parades, however, the men and women who have kept America safe wear no badge or emblem.

You can’t always tell a vet just by looking.


So…..What is a vet?


He is the cop on the beat who spent six months in Saudi Arabia sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carriers didn’t run out of fuel.

He is the barroom loudmouth, dumber than five wooden planks, whose overgrown frat-boy behavior is outweighed a hundred times in the cosmic scales by four hours of exquisite bravery near the 38th parallel.

She- or he- is the nurse who fought against futility and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years in Da Nang

He is the POW who went away one person and came back another- or didn’t come back AT ALL.

He is the Army drill sergeant who has never seen combat, but has saved countless lives by turning slouchy, no-account rednecks and gang members into soldiers, and  teaching them to watch each other’s backs.

He is the parade-riding Legionnaire who pins on his ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand.

He is the career quartermaster who watches those ribbons and medals pass him by.

He is the three anonymous heroes in The Tomb of the Unknown, whose presence at the Arlington National Cemetery must forever preserve the memory of all the anonymous heroes whose valor dies unrecognized with them on the battlefield or in the ocean’s sunless deep.

He is the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket; palsied now and aggravatingly slow – who helped liberate a Nazi death camp and who wishes all day long that his wife were still alive to hold him when the nightmares come.

He is an ordinary and yet extraordinary human being – a person who offered some of his most vital years in the service of his country, and who sacrificed his ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs.

He is a soldier and a savior and a sword against the darkness, and he is nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the finest, greatest nation ever


So remember, each time you see someone who has served our country, just lean over and say Thank You. That’s all most people need, and in most cases it will mean more than any medals they could have been awarded or were awarded.

Two little words that mean a lot, “THANK YOU.”

“It is the Soldier, not the reporter, who has given us the freedom of the press.

It is the Soldier, not the poet, who has given us the freedom of speech.

It is the Soldier, not the campus organizer, who has  given us the right to demonstrate.

It is the Soldier who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, which allows the protester to burn the flag.”

Please remember those who have served and those who now serve the greatest country in the world.


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