Support vets on Veteran's Day
By By Lee “Lavan” Martin
November 11th is Veterans Day and a day on which all citizens are asked to remember and honor the sacrifice of our nation's veterans. It is an honor to celebrate the service of all veterans on Veterans Day, not just for those who fought during time of war but also for those who are still fighting for peace throughout the world.
To all veterans, no matter where or when you served, regardless of the branch of military service in which you served, the VFW says, THANK YOU. Some of you may have battle scars, disabling injuries and prolonged illness that keep the memory of war in your minds. You deserve the assurances from a grateful nation for what you accomplished in the service to our great country.
I hope all citizens will pause and take a few moments to recognize and thank the men and women who served and are still serving in today's active duty military, guard or reserve for what they did and continue to do to defend and preserve freedom and liberty at home and abroad. The sacrifices and accomplishments they made and continue to make should be a reminder that tyranny and evil will never prevail.
The lessons taught by what veterans have done should never be forgotten. It's up to us to keep the legacy of our veterans alive, to make sure the same spirit and faith in democracy carries through so that future generations will also celebrate the unity, courage, valor and singleness of purpose that is the strength of a free nation.
We should do everything possible to insure that future generations recognize the heavy price associated with freedom…that they are able to identify the names of far-off places where so many of our best and brightest lost their lives and continue to pay the supreme sacrifice. We should also insure future generations know the names of our Nation's heroes and that we instill in their minds the same sense of honor and respect that we hold for them.
Why do we pay tribute to veterans? Simply put, because honoring our veterans is the right thing to do and because we are a nation where freedom has been guaranteed by all of our veterans. While we pay tribute to them, we should also take the opportunity to rededicate ourselves to our country and to those men and women who have served and continue to serve to protect her.
As we say THANK YOU on Veterans Day, let us turn words into action by honoring our obligations to veterans, just as they honored their obligations to all of us. Let us make it a point – not just on Veterans Day – but every day, to thank veterans for everything they have done and continue to do to make this world a safer and peaceful world.
In closing, I share with you an example of an action performed by a truly dedicated veteran I received via the internet, one that could happen in any hospital in any given city.
"A nurse took the tired anxious serviceman to the bedside of a dying man. 'Your son is here,' she said to the old man. She had to repeat the words several times before the patient's eyes opened.
Heavily sedated because of the pain of his heart attack, the old man dimly saw the young uniformed Marine standing outside the oxygen tent. He reached out his hand. The Marine wrapped his toughened fingers around the old man's limp ones, squeezing a message of love and encouragement. The nurse brought a chair so that the Marine could sit beside the bed.
All through the night the young Marine sat there in the poorly lighted ward, holding the old man's hand and offering him words of love and strength. Occasionally, the nurse suggested that the Marine move away and rest awhile. He refused. Whenever the nurse came into the ward, the Marine was oblivious of her and or the night noises of the hospital – the clanking of the oxygen tank, the laughter of the night staff members exchanging greetings, the cries and moans of the other patients.
Now and then the nurse heard the Marine say a few gentle words. The dying man said nothing as he held tightly to his son all through the night.
Along towards dawn, the old man died. The Marine released the now lifeless hand he had been holding and went to tell the nurse. While she did what she had to do, he waited. Finally, she returned. She started to offer words of sympathy, but the Marine interrupted her.
'Who was that man?' he asked. The nurse was startled, 'He was your father' she answered. 'No, he wasn't,' the Marine replied. 'I never saw him before in my life.' 'Then why didn't you say something when I took you to him?'
'I knew right away there had been a mistake, but I also knew he needed his son, and his son just wasn't here. When I realized that he was too sick to tell whether or not I was his son, knowing how much he needed me, I stayed.' As always this Marine fulfilled a duty."
Our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq are performing similar acts today. Let us remember them and all veterans on Veterans Day and show our appreciation to them for what they do and continue to do to make our world a safer and peaceful world.
Make God bless all veterans, and may God bless America!!!
Lee "Lavan" Martin is commander of the Atmore VFW Post 7016.