Hello, I’m Jerry Stewart. Today I have words to honor our very special Veterans.
It was 1999. When I did my first Veterans interviews. I had determined that I would not seek out heroes and high-ranking officers, I would interview any veteran. But there’s one thing I heard in that first interview, and I have found it to be true with now over 100 completed interviews. It’s this:
No veteran, no one presently serving, none feel that they are doing anything special. They love their country, America, and whatever they did during their military service, big or small, it was simply their duty. Wow!
Over the last few weeks, I’ve spent time looking at the stories I’ve covered – the horrific slaughter our Military went through – and both before then and after, so many have died in our Nation’s defense. But what about those who don’t die? So often, they bring back with them the sights, the sounds, the horrors.
When I was a young boy growing up in Texas, my best friend in the world was Kerry Wages. When we both finished high school, Kerry joined the Marines and went to Vietnam. Years later, I asked Kerry his most vivid remembrance of war,
KERRY – “You would routinely get these guys, and some had lost their legs, some of them were just in so much pain. And you would look at these guys, and the one thing that would always come to my mind is this guy has got a family. This guy could have a wife. He’s got a mother, father, brother, and the pain that he and his family are going through right now, for the rest of his life.
But for every brave American who goes off to war, there are those behind those of us waiting, watching, praying, hoping, begging, Please God, let my special someone come home. But so often, they don’t come home in 2002.
I did an interview with one mom. Her name was Gertrude Likkle. Her son Dwayne had gone to Vietnam in 1968 and never came home. We talked about his heart, his spirit, his love of God and country. And we talked of his death.
When Mrs. Likkle finished the interview, she left behind a worn blue binder full of letters of commendations and medals and badges and ribbons, personal letters of gratitude, even one from the President of the United States. But the one thing which struck me hardest was a small black and white photo, a photo of a proud young mother holding a smiling baby boy, a mother and the son alive with so much great promise – a life lost.
There is no doubt war makes us all feel so helpless. We pray for peace. We long for those we love to be free from harm to come home to us. But as long as the bullies and tyrants in this world exist, as long as there are the very strong, as long as there are the very weak, the fighting, the protecting, must continue.
Let us, the American people never forget that freedom is not free. The cost comes very high. Let us not end this day today. Without thanking God for our troops.
Let me ask you a question. Do you know a veteran, maybe a friend or a neighbor, maybe even a parent or grandparent? The truth is that there are veterans all around us. But how often do we take even a moment to say “thanks” for their wonderful service to our Nation?
Did you know that our World War Two Veterans are now dying at a rate of 1000 per day, and soon, sadly, they’ll all be gone. And once they’re gone, there will be no one left to tell the stories.
So do yourself and a Veteran a favor today – search one out, sit down with them and listen to just where they were and what he did during their military service.
And while you’re at it, bring along the children. We all need to know, to remember the tremendous sacrifice made by so many.
I can assure you that if you take the time to honor our Veterans, not only will you make them feel good, you’ll be glad you did it.