Yesterday was Veteran’s Day. I am the son of a grunt. My dad served in Vietnam as a front line Army infantryman. He was a sergeant. My dad, like many, has nobly fought the memories of the horrors of war over the years. Those memories are instantaneously real to him to this day. My dad made a covenant to God under a tree in the jungle one night in Vietnam. He made it through. Actually, that is an understatement; he earned five Bronze Stars during his tour. But like most combat veterans, he’d rather not talk about it since he was “just doing what I had to do” (I actually just found out about the quantity of medals this year!). He led his men and served his country with honor and courage that I can only imagine. That pledge brought him home and turned into the blessing of my life, my sister’s and a marriage nearly 43 years strong. Most of all, however, is the impact that my father has had on others’ lives. From his family to his grandkids to his friends to his colleagues at work, my father makes a difference. He is not only my hero, but the hero of many others as well. His perspective of what is really important was the gift given to him as a veteran of war. He shares that gift every day to those around him.
Most of you know others like my father. But, like my father, most of them say little about their experience. How can we possibly repay the Veteran? What can we say or do to let them know how much we appreciate them? From the words of my father, “Look them in the eye, and say, ‘Thank you for your service’.” Over the coming months as you see men and women in uniform walking through an airport, at the store or in any setting, please take heed of my father’s words. A meaningful thank you can mean all the difference to those who have experienced the terror that is war. After all, they were “just doing their job”.