By Hank Schrader, Maj (ret), Infantry
Veteran’s Day is celebrated on 11 November each year. The significance of this date commemorates the end of the fighting in WW I. For students of history, like me, we like to say “on the 11th hour of the 11th day in the 11th month the guns fell silent”—an easy way to remember the date of the end of hostilities of WW I. This original celebration has changed in America from an Armistice Day observance into Veterans Day, the holiday that we celebrate today. Veterans of all our military forces should be recognized for keeping our country safe and this blog is a tribute to all who have honorably served our country.
To all of you who read this and served in the military, thank you for your service—most will never know how much you contributed to the well-being of our country and keeping it safe. I served for 20 years as an infantry officer, my nephew Lance, served in the Army as part of the 10th Mountain Division in Bosnia, and my niece, Mindy Kay is on active duty in the Air Force. Thanks for your service—you two young ones have made me proud—you helped and are helping to keep our country safe!
A Few Words about My West Point Class of 1971
Sometimes, the best way to describe how our country’s veterans help keep our country safe is to use examples from your own experience. In the 5 to 40 years or so that the 729 members of my West Point graduating class of 1971 were on active duty, they helped keep the country safe by serving in 7 major conflicts. Here is a list of those conflicts: Vietnam, Granada, Panama, The Gulf War, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq. For me, who did not serve in any of these conflicts, it is humbling to say the least. They are perfect examples of selfless sacrifice—in the military you go where you are ordered to go. There are no excuses, you have a duty and an obligation. These guys are the rock stars of our class and I salute you!
However, it is not just those guys who kept our country safe—others were stationed in areas that deterred aggression from other countries. Some were ready to deploy in 18 hours to a potential hot spot in bases in the US and worldwide. Others supported them with the items necessary to carry out their missions. You will never know about them—unsung heroes that helped keep our country safe. They played an important role in our national defense. They too deserve recognition—again I salute you.
A Final Thought
Of all the services our government provides its citizens, there is none more important than the defense of our nation and our way of life. Today, less than 0.05% of our nation’s citizens are serving our country in the armed forces. These men and women, deserve more than thanks for their service. Maybe next time you meet a veteran, why not say something like this “Thanks for keeping our country Safe!”
We should also recognize the families of our veterans—they also serve, maybe not directly, but they contribute behind the scenes and often make it possible for our vets to complete their missions. They too, deserve to hear “Thanks for keeping our country safe”
Trust me, those who have served will appreciate it more than you could ever understand—why not tell a vet or his family that you know your freedom and safety depends on those who serve?
To all my fellow veterans and their families—Thanks for keeping our country safe!