A Veteran's Value

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Ryan Edwards
  • 33rd Fighter Wing
Today, as a Nation, we honor the Veteran. Today, we honor those who have put on the uniform of this great nation and said "Send me."

President George Washington said "The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation."

Today, Veterans Day 2013, is our Nations way of showing that appreciation. November 11th, 1918 originally designated as Armistice Day, marked the end of fighting during World War I. Since the original designation, the United States has engaged in battles and conflicts in WWII, Korea, Vietnam and the Middle East. It is the veteran who has consistently put the interests of freedom above the personal interest of safety to ensure all Americans remain free.

The freedom we have to gather together and acknowledge the sacrifice of the Veteran cannot be understated, for it is the Veteran who has stood for that freedom. It is the Veteran who has traveled to foreign and distant lands to ensure freedom is enjoyed by all man. It is the Veteran who has come home from war, to parades and celebration for a job well done. It is the Veteran who enjoys a sense of pride knowing they have stood in the face of hardship and triumphed in the name of good. But let us not forget the sacrifice. It is the Veteran who has missed an anniversary for the cause of freedom. It is the Veteran who has missed a child's birth, a first Christmas, a first birthday or a parent's funeral for the cause of freedom. It is the Veteran who has come home to a country that has thrown stones or spit at their very existence. It is the Veteran who must reprogram a state of mind that acknowledges peace. It is the Veteran who has suffered the fate of a nations divide.

It has been said that "In war, no one comes home unwounded."

More than one a day - that is the rate at which our service members, whether they are active-duty, National Guard or reserves, have committed suicide over the last year.

We have to remember those sacrifices are key components to preventing this alarming trend. It is our duty as Americans to show our appreciation. It is our duty to recognize the effort and sacrifice of the Veteran and extend a heartfelt "thank you". Today is only a start.

We cannot let our recognition and appreciation of the Veteran start and stop on a given day, just as the Veteran does not let their sacrifice start and stop on any given day. As citizens of this great and free country, it is our duty to appreciate the Veteran year round; for if we do not, we will find ourselves in a place where our right to thank our veterans no longer exists. It is our duty to engage the Veteran, to hear their story and to know the history of this great nation. Every Veteran has a story to tell.

Not every Veteran has seen firsthand the horrors of war and not every Veteran has dedicated 20-plus years of service to our nation, but, no matter the era served or the length of service, every veteran has said "Send me". It is our duty as Americans to acknowledge that sacrifice, to instill in our youth that their sacrifice is to be respected, to be admired and to be duplicated.

Today, we not only say with words "Thank you" but we acknowledge with action. As President John F. Kennedy once said "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."

Veterans Day 2013 finds us as a Nation engaged in a battle with an enemy that seeks to harm Americans because of the freedoms we enjoy, freedoms that have been fought for since the beginning of this great Nation and freedoms that the Veteran has so internalized that they are willing to lay down their life for their fellow Americans. For that, to the Veteran, we say thank you, we love you and you are appreciated.