Sunday, November 11, 2012
Veterans; Thank You For Your Service
As a military retiree I go over to Luke Air Force Base once a week or so, to use the commissary, or to pick up medicine from the base pharmacy. As I pull up to the gate I'm greeted by a baby-faced 20 something who checks my I.D. card, renders a smile and a salute, and never fails to render me the greatest courtesies.
"My God", I think...these kids look so young! Yet, unlike so many of our young today, these kids in uniform have clearly joined the long line of tradition that dearly respects the brotherhood of men who sacrifice so much in the service of our country.
That truth has always been so. When I was attending Officer's Training School we were honored with weekly visits by heroes of the Pacific War, veterans from Pork Chop Hill in Korea and POW's who survived years of torture and starvation in North Vietnamese prison camps. We regarded these heroes with awe as we listen to their stories of sacrifice.
In 2004 I attended a reunion of my old Vietnam unit. It was held at the base that now is home to my old unit. We old hands were delighted that the young troops from the new crop of airman wished to host us "old fogies". I fully expected that we would be given a facility to have our dinner, that we would rub shoulders with our old comrades and would then go home, having had the opportunity to re-new old acquaintances.
So, I was taken aback by the warm reception we got from the "new generation" who now wore the colors of our old unit. These kids seemed to hold us in awe. They took us to a "museum" where, on display, were mementos of our weapons and equipment and old battle logs. They took us to a training center where they showed us that our unit's performance under combat were used as "case studies" for their own weapons and tactics training. Their current Commander spoke so graciously of us in a ceremony and used audio video and photos of us as we carried out our duties so long ago.
We "old folks" left the base after that week floating on clouds! We were so gratified to be reminded that our service to the nation was important to those who came after!
So, as or nation stops to honor veterans through the land, it is important for veterans to know that those who now serve still regard you with great honor and pride.
So many of our Vietnam veterans never received the "Welcome Home" they so dearly deserved. But, fear not; I can tell you that those in uniform today will always welcome you into the brotherhood of military service.
Happy Veterans Day!