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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Veterans Day 2009 - What is a Veteran?

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 of 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 adversity.

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

You can't tell a vet just by looking.

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 loudmouth whose frat-boy behavior is outweighed a hundred times in cosmic scales by four hours of exquisite bravery near the 38th parallel in Korea.

She is the nurse who fought against futility and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years in Vietnam.

He is the former Prisoner of War who went away one person and came back another - or didn't come back at all.

He is the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket who helped liberate a Nazi death camp and who wishes that his wife were still alive to hold him when the nightmares come.

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

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 earned.

Two little words that mean a lot, THANK YOU.

Adapted from Father Denis Edward O'Brien, USMC

"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 freedom of speech.
It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate.
It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag."

From the Veterans of the Livingston County War Museum

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