A lot of people confuse Veterans Day with Memorial Day. Whereas Memorial Day honors those who served in our nation’s military and gave the ultimate sacrifice of their lives and therefore deserve special recognition and honor, Veterans Day honors all who have served regardless of their level of service or degree of sacrifice or even if they were never involved in combat or never served during an armed conflict.
Sometimes we honor the former without giving a second thought to the latter, and that’s sad. Both categories, however, are critical to the defense of our nation and the freedoms we enjoy.
We are fast losing our veterans of World War II and Korea. The Vietnam vets are aging quickly. We now have veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and countless little “police actions” around the world. They, too, deserve our thanks. Now. Someone once commented that we shouldn’t wait to attend a friend’s funeral to show how much he or she meant to us. Rather, we should tell that person of our appreciation now, while he or she is still with us.
If you know or see a military veteran today, tomorrow–or any day–let him or her know you appreciate the service they’ve rendered you. Yes, in serving their country, they are serving you and me individually.
To “prime the pump” a bit, I’ll set the example: Thank you, Joshua Peterson (my great, great grandfather), for your service during the War Between the States. Thank you, Uncle Dillon, for your army service in World War II. Thank you, Cousins Burl and Kyle, for your air force service during war and peace following World War II. Thank you, Captain Justin Peterson (USMC) for paying the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq. Thank you, Joshua Peterson, for serving in Iraq and accompanying your brother’s body back home and for the service you rendered stateside afterward. And thank you, LT. Commander Brandon Geddes, for treating the teeth of all those other sailors there in Okinawa.
Thank you to all our nation’s veterans!