Today is Veterans’ Day. This day is set aside to honor those who have given their time and their service to protecting and defending their country. Some have given more than that . . . they have given their limbs, their eyes, their peace of mind. Some have given what President Abraham Lincoln called, “The last full measure of devotion,” their very lives. Today our men and women in arms are fighting shooting wars in two countries and those wars are not popular among all people. If you disagree with our country’s reasons for fighting these wars, in fact, if you disagree with anything the government of the United States of America does, that is your right. I have watched several videos on that greatest and most reliable of networks, YouTube.com, where men and women have shown catagorical disdain for this country, our government, our leaders, our flag, and those of us who they term “flag-waving patriots.” Once again, this is their right. I am compelled to remind each and every one of you — Democrat, Republican, Independent or Other; Gay or Straight; Black, White, Red, Yellow, Tan, or Multicultural; Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Atheist, or Other — ALL of you owe your right and freedom to disagree as well as every other right you have and freedom you enjoy to the men and women of the armed forces past, present, and future.
If you disagree with the wars they fight, that is your right, but please — I beg you — please do not allow your distaste for why they fight to discolor your opinion of who they are and the service they give. They did not choose their wars, but they chose to serve and they deserve our respect and honor for that reason if for no other.
My school honored our veterans with a beautiful ceremony earlier today and as part of that ceremony the winners of an essay contest about “Why Veterans Should Be Honored” read their essays before the assemble student body and guests, guests that included several veterans. Many of those present and I were touched by the sincerity and the power of their words. I have obtained their permission to reprint their essays here each in its entirety. The essays are verbatim and uncorrected and I think they are amazing.
The Sacrifice We Should Honor by Rachel L. 7th Grade
“Huge flags billow slowly, their huge folds settling on the air, half-heartedly riding the wind before falling back on the pole that holds them. They stand sentinel over thousands of white crosses, watching over the ones at peace that are below them. But why are they there? The answer lies in the cloth of the red, white, and blue flag. It stands for the freedom the individuals who lie below them won. The ones who are alive know this; the ones who survived the terrible bloodshed understand this well.
‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.’ John Kennedy spoke these words that have rung throughout history, stirring emotions in everyone. Soldiers especially take these words to heart. Freedom is what they fight for and they ignore their own safety as they struggle onwards towards the goal of peace and justice for all. Their patriotism is touching and inspiring to all who do not take this freedom we are blessed with for granted.
We should honor these soldiers, and those who survive to come back home. America is built on their blood, sweat, and tears. Without our veterans, America would have collapsed long ago. Veterans are the warriors that have carried the burden of America on their backs.
Although some veterans might not be physically hurt, their minds bear burning scars that haunt them the rest of their lives. Still others are physically wounded, with missing limbs or terrible wounds caused by shrapnel and bullets. They they have to live out their lives, with a disfigurement to remind them of the price they paid to preserve the freedom of the country they live in. We need to take special care of these people who have seen the horrors of war.
Too many people in our country complain about unimportant things, while soldiers overseas are dying to give them that freedom to complain. The very people they fight for often ignore the ones who come home, the veterans. We should honor these men and women who so openly throw themselves in combat to protect our freedom and our lives. Think about it. You never know if the person you see on the street or in a hospital is a veteran that saved your life.”
Why Veterans Should Be Honored by Rachel K., 8th Grade
Veterans are much more than just citizens of America. They are national heroes of America. Veterans sacrifice everything to fight for our freedom and safety. They care so much about us that they are willing to fight for their country.
Veterans should be honored because they sacrifice their lives for us. These soldiers are brave and strong enough to enter territories in which the conditions are beyond our imaginations. The men and women of the army are prepared to die for their country on behalf of freedom.
Veterans should be honored because they are forced to leave their families behind. A family soldier could have died in the war with their family clueless. Some soldiers are afraid that everything will have been changed by the time they make it back. This is one of the most tragic reasons.
We should honor veterans because of the terrifying and heroic experiences they have had. Some soldiers were captured and held captive for over five years. They have suffered major injuries, abuse, starvation, and many have died. These are only a few things that veterans could have suffered from during captivation. Only the bravest people are willing to go through these harsh obstacles for our country.
Veterans cared enough about each citizen in the United States to go to war and try to make peace. Soldiers have embraced their ability to serve and to honor. They work hard enough to try to make our country the best and safest it can be. How would you like to have been a great hero for your country, and not be recognized? Veterans only ask for remembrance, is that so hard to give them?
I hope that every American citizen will honor and appreciate every veteran with the highest and up-most respect that they can offer. These soldiers deserve all of the honor and remembrance that we, as Americans, are able to give.
I appreciate these two young peoples’ sentiments. I’ve known some to say that we shouldn’t fight. I agree that we shouldn’t always fight, but sometimes . . . well sometimes the only way to get people, especially bullies, dictators, and tyrants to listen is to fight. Always, ALWAYS remember that it is not the soldier, sailor, or marine’s decision who, what, when, or where he or she fights. Anytime lives are on the line, disagreement will follow. Some of you might even be interested to know that, even after the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, the vote to declare war on Japan was not unanimous.
What I’m saying is not every threat to our country is as real, as obvious, in the public mind as the Kaiser’s Germany or Hitler’s Nazis or Tojo’s Japan. No matter the threat, however, our men and women in uniform go to meet it. Each and every one of them swears an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States of America against ALL enemies” They do not have the luxury of deciding who that enemy is. So please take time today to say thank you to veterans you may know because you need to remember, “if you can read this blog, thank a teacher and if you are FREE to read this blog, thank a veteran.”
Wash your feet y’all 🙂