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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Remembering and Thanking Our Veterans

Jean Sexton writes:

Another Veterans Day is upon us. This holiday is one of the “forgotten” holidays it seems, since it hasn’t been moved to add on to a weekend. It means far more than just great buys at the mall, though. It is a day to honor those men and women who have served in our military. Let’s take a moment to reflect on the ideals of those services.

"Always Ready, Always There"
-- US National Guard Motto

Founded in 1636, the National Guard is frequently overlooked, except in time of disaster. These "weekend warriors" train hard to be ready and have been called upon more and more in recent years. Their unique civilian skills are highly appreciated in countries where they are helping rebuild the infrastructure. In these countries and at disaster sites, they risk their lives helping others and they know that they could lose their lives so that others might live. We should honor the veterans of this service by reaching out, not only to our neighbors and co-workers, but to others in need.

"This We'll Defend"
-- US Army Motto

Through the years, members of the armed services have sworn to "defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic". It is a lifelong oath. The Constitution defines the best of the United States, what our founders wanted our country to be. Many members of the armed services have given their life to defend our country; others stand ready to if they are called to stand between our country and enemies. We should honor the veterans of this service by striving to make them proud as we defend our country to the best of our own abilities, be it by word or deed.

"Honor, Courage, & Commitment"
-- US Navy Core Values

The people who have served in peace and in war, in cold wars and shooting wars have made a commitment to their service. They have served not only in fair weather, but in the stormiest of times. Most have served with honor and courage. We should honor these veterans by committing to make these values part of our personal life.

"Semper Fidelis" (Always Faithful)
-- US Marines Motto

In many ways this motto is symbolic of the brotherhood of the Marine Corps; it is a way of life. As an outsider looking in, I have noticed that the kinship of the Marines seems to transcend all of the services. The people who have served carry the responsibility of the oath they swore. We should honor the Marines by being faithful to our country.

"Integrity First, Service before Self, Excellence in All We Do"
-- US Air Force Core Values

These values are indeed hard ones to live up to and challenge us to soar. Integrity, service, and excellence seem to slide in this day and age where speed and "getting by" seem to be the norm. And yet the people who serve in the armed forces take on these obligations, even though it could it mean death. We should honor these veterans by striving day by day to make sure these core qualities are reflected in our work and are a part of our life.

"Semper Paratus" (Always Ready)
-- US Coast Guard Motto

It sounds easy, being ready. And yet, there is the "always" part to make it more difficult. The people who serve in the armed forces do so not when it is convenient, not when it is fun, not when it is fair sailing, but "always", even if it means giving up life or health or being with family. We should honor the veterans by trying our best to be worthy of the sacrifices they have made and will make.

We cannot let what veterans have given be forgotten, for if we do not remember and honor those sacrifices that were made and will be made, we do not diminish those who went before, we diminish ourselves. So take a moment to thank the veterans around you, the people who served; teach your children to honor them, since the sacrifices they have made make it possible for us to be who we are today.