This morning while at the doctor, the young nurse was checking me in, and saw the Vietnam Veteran cap I had just removed. She thanked me for my service, as people often do now days. After I was checked in, she left saying the doctor would be right in.
After I saw the doctor, and he had concluded that I needed a biopsy, he stated that the nurse would be right in to prepare the room and myself for the procedure. When she came in, she began thanking me again for my service, and asked what our world was coming to. She said she was 35 years old and cannot understand the mindset of today’s young people. It seems that her family had escaped socialistic governments in other countries, and that she has family that escaped from Cuba. Again, she said, “Thank you for defending America’s freedom.” I was moved to many tears. So much so, that the doctor asked if I was alright when he came back in.
The following expresses much about an American Veteran. (I am not responsible for creating this honest and heartfelt sentiment, and I do not know who to credit). At the end, I will express a personal note)
For all non military friends, I pray this may help you to understand those of us that served in the Military:
We Are Veterans.
We left home as teenagers, or in our early twenties for an unknown adventure.
We loved our country enough to defend it and protect it with our own lives.
We said goodbye to friends and family and everything we knew.
We learned the basics and then we scattered in the wind to the far corners of the Earth.
We found new friends and new family.
We became brothers and sisters regardless of color, race or creed.
We had plenty of good times, and plenty of bad times.
We didn’t get enough sleep.
We smoked and drank too much.
We picked up both good and bad habits.
We worked hard and played harder.
We didn’t earn a great wage.
We experienced the happiness of mail call , and the sadness of missing important events.
We didn’t know when, or even if, we were ever going to see home again.
We grew up fast, and yet somehow, we never grew up at all.
We fought for our freedom, as well as the freedom of others.
Some of us saw actual combat, and some of us didn’t.
Some of us saw the world, and some of us didn’t.
Some of us dealt with physical warfare, a lot of us dealt with psychological warfare.
We have seen and experienced and dealt with things that we can’t fully describe or explain, as not all of our sacrifices were physical.
We participated in time honored ceremonies and rituals with each other, strengthening our bonds and camaraderie.
We counted on each other to get our job done and sometimes to survive it at all.
We have dealt with victory and tragedy.
We have celebrated and mourned.
We lost a few along the way.
When our adventure ended, some of us went back home, some of us started somewhere new and some of us never came home at all.
We have told amazing and hilarious stories of our exploits and adventures.
We share an unspoken bond with each other, that most people don’t experience, and few will ever understand.
We speak highly of our own branch of service, and poke fun at the other branches.
We know however, that, if needed, we will be there for our brothers and sisters and stand together as one.
Being a Veteran is something that had to be earned, and it can never be taken away.
It has no monetary value, but at the same time it is a priceless gift.
People see a Veteran and they thank them for their service. It is not required, however thank you.
When we see each other, we give that little head nod, or a slight smile, knowing that we have shared and experienced things that most people have not.
So, from myself to the rest of the veterans out there, I commend and thank you for all that you have done and sacrificed for your country.
Try to remember the good times and forget the bad times.
Share your stories.
But most importantly, stand tall and proud, for you have earned the right to be called a Veteran.
Jerry McCullah again:
I am a Vietnam Vet who served in the Air Force.
Many laugh and indicate that we had it easy in Nam. I have never really responded to such thoughts and accusations, even if it was simply a joke, but at my age, I do have a response and some memories.
My first responsibility was to assist in keeping fighter bombers in the air to complete their missions of destruction of property, equipment and lives of the enemy. I made sure they were equipped, locked and loaded.
My second responsibility was that of a runner on an augmenting squad against enemy attacks. That is I assisted and backed up army and marines when the base was under enemy attacks. I have knowledge of, and experience in, my role taking other lives. That is something you do not readily let go of in your mind, no matter how many years should pass. I have also watched, without warning, a few servicemen, of every rank and age, as they took their own lives after receiving a “Dear John” letter from either a girlfriend or wife. Those images will never go away.
No, I am not a marine; neither am I army; but I am a proud (now) American Vietnam Veteran. And I will defend her yet today. Thank you to those who read this. God bless you!