America’s war veterans come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes and ages. Their collective experience spans two world wars and several foreign conflicts. They have followed war mules through Flanders Field, dropped from landing barges onto the beaches of Normandy, faced the icy cold of Porkchop Hill and trudged through the rice paddies of the Mekong Delta.
But, regardless of differences in makeup and experience, all veterans share a common bond - a brotherhood of memory and hard-won wisdom that helps define their character.
A veteran is the first man up as the flag passes by on the 4th of July, and the last one down, for he has been a witness to the blood and tears that make this and all other parades possible.
A veteran is a man of peace, soft-spoken, slow to anger, quick to realize that those who tale most about the glory of war are those who know least about its horror. He never jokes about war; he’s been there, and still sees on memory’s vivid screen the wounded and the dying, the widows and orphans; he knows first-hand that no war is good and that the only thing worse than war is slavery
He is friend to all races of man, begrudging none; he carries with him the knowledge that it is not the man that is the enemy but enslavement and false ideologies. Those whom he once faced across the hostile battle lines, he now esteems as his brothers.
A veteran is at once proud and humble: proud of the fact that in 200 years no foreign enemy has set food on American soil; and humble in the realization that many of his comrades who helped him make this lofty aim a reality, never returned.
More than anything else, a veteran loves freedom. He can spend a whole afternoon doing nothing - just because it suits him, and just because he has paid the price to do what he wants with his time. He also takes a personal pride in the freedom of others - in men and women attending the church of their choice; in friends voting how they choose; and in children sleeping quietly, without fear to interrupt their slumber.
A veteran is every man grown up a little taller - a person who understands the awesome price of life’s intangibles of freedom, justice and democracy. His motto is to live and let live. But, if he had to, if had to choose between servitude and conflict, the veteran would once again answer a call to duty.
Because, above all - above all else - a veteran is an American.
Copyright 1984 Bonnieville Media Communications
Provided by VFW Post 5710 Americanism Program