Most Americans seem to confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day. In that misunderstanding, living veterans seem to get the short end of the stick.
While those Americans who gave their lives in battle are certainly real heroes, so are those who are fortunate enough to still be with us. We are fortunate in that as well.
As we pause today to honor current and past military members, let’s realize that the primary reason we are even free enough to celebrate today in their honor is because of their commitments to pay any price necessary to keep that freedom intact FOR us.
There are no words sufficient to impart to American military veterans the honor for which they are due. We certainly can in no way pay them monetarily for what their battle on our behalf has been worth. But I think President Reagan did a really good job of speaking for most of us. Give a listen:
President Reagan illustrates how important every veteran who has served in military service is to us all. Yes, he honored veterans who gave their lives in battle, even though his speech was given on Veterans Day and not Memorial Day. I don’t think the President had any difficulty in honoring America’s deceased military heroes in the same speech as he honored veterans still living. I think recognizing military members past and present only two days a year may actually be a slap in the face for them. They deserve our respect and honor every day.
Sadly, today — Veterans Day — tens of thousands of veterans struggle with the physical, emotional, and mental scars of battle in unthinkable foreign conflicts. Many of them live in squalor in tents, makeshift huts, and are even begging for food.
We have looked in as the ills of the healthcare we promised as partial payment for their sacrifices in their service have been exposed. Most of us just shake our heads when we see the horrors of their lives in television exposes. Our national leaders have promised again and again to fix the Veterans Administration. President Trump has made great strides in implementing processes to hopefully provide them everything they need in medical care. But it did not deteriorate quickly. And it cannot be repaired quickly.
While they wait for the American “military promise,” many know they will not live long enough to receive the benefits they deserve. We lose a large number every day to suicide, because they simply cannot deal with the effects of their military service.
You and I may not be able to do anything at all to help them with their numerous issues. But we CAN support them. Today, I will stand on the stage in my home church — a large church — where a large number of veterans attend. I have been asked to honor them for their commitment, their service, and — as President Reagan so eloquently stated — their sacrifices. Each veteran sacrificed at least one life — the life they walked away from to join the military. But those who paid the ultimate price lost a second life: the one they WOULD HAVE lived. I’m a really emotional guy. I’ll probably choke through introducing those veterans in attendance, having them stand and walk forward when they hear the song specific to their branch of service, and then lead a prayer for them all. But if I am overcome with emotion and shed a tear or two, the cost of those tears is insignificant when compared to their costs.
Don’t sleep tonight without having told a veteran “Thanks for your service.” If you don’t have a veteran in your family that you’ll be able to see and thank today, go find one. Yes, it’ll take a little time. But the time it’ll take you to find that veteran and spend 5-10 minutes with them in their honor pales in comparison to the mre’s they ate, fox holes they dug, birthdays and anniversaries and baby births they missed, and nights they spent sleeping under stars instead of in their beds.
Is saying “Thank you” for that too much for any of us today?