Today is Veteran’s Day. It is a day that sadly is mostly overlooked by Americans. However, it is a day of honor, a chance to show our gratitude to the men and women who have served in the armed forces. It is a day to express our thanks to those who put their lives on the line in the defense of our country and to remember respectfully those who made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation.
It is not fashionable anymore to wave flags on this day as the parade of veterans passes by. And that is truly unfortunate. If anyone doubts the honor of military service, visit a hospital and see the sacrifices of those wounded in war. Take a walk through a Veteran’s Hospital and see lives interrupted and forever changed by the weaponry of war. War is hell and for those who have fought it can be an eternal hell on earth. We do not need the lens of history to show us the pain of war, just talk to any of our soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Ask the families who have endured the pain of waiting for the return of their loved one’s remains at Dover Air Force Base or had to listen to the mournful strains of taps during a military burial.
We can’t let the politics of war blind us to the honor of service. The images of soldiers storming a beach, wading in knee deep muck in the jungle, parachuting at night into enemy territory, standing on the deck of an aircraft carrier fending off an attack, or maneuvering a jet in aerial combat serve as the photo album of valor. There are no words to define the willingness to stand in harm’s way for an ideal. It is heroism in its true sense.
We are particularly pleased that the Obama administration is making a special effort to facilitate the hiring of veterans. No veteran should have to worry about their economic security after serving our country. A similar effort must be put forth to tackle homelessness among veterans and mandate proper medical treatment. There should be no debate, partisan sniping, and no opposition to making certain our veterans are treated respectfully and that their needs are fully addressed. It is the very least we can do to show our gratitude.
Today we salute all of our veterans and give a special salute to African-Americans who have served our country in uniform. As far back as the Revolutionary War, Blacks were fully committed to the principles espoused by the Founding Fathers and willingly took up arms in its defense. The same sense of honor compelled slaves to fight in the Civil War despite no guarantee of full emancipation. Even when forced to fight in segregated troops, African-Americans bravely accepted the call without hesitation. Blacks willingly took up arms and fought for rights that were not extended to them. The same can be said of Black women who fought to serve in women’s auxiliaries to do their part in the war effort. African-Americans have never turned their backs on this country, despite the country doing so to Blacks.
So today we encourage you to wave your flag, say “thank you” to a veteran and whisper a prayer of gratitude for all the women and men who protect our nation and our way of life.