Dear Fellow Veterans: I Honor ALL of You!
By: Brian M Murray, MS, IMH
“Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid, one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.” -Douglas MacArthur…
On November 11th the veterans of the United States of America get to stand up and be recognized, all 22.7 million of us. It is a time for one day a year to being able to say, “Yes, I am one.” Handshakes, parades and hugs and many thanks are commonplace throughout the day and are well appreciated. Recognizing each other there is an unwritten understanding, a common bond knowing that at some place and time in history we all played a part of who we are today. There is a sense of pride…and we are humble at the same time. It is called “the service” for a reason, serving a democracy is at the core for which the military stands. It is recognized as an honor to serve out of respect the citizens of the United States and the free people everywhere. Veterans are people who adhere to a set of beliefs to uphold the Constitution and protect the very freedoms that provide for the common defense of all people. It was an oath we swore by the day we signed on the dotted line.
As a veteran of the United States Army, I wanted to take a moment to give thanks to all of those I served next to during my time of service from 1989-1993. That is what Veterans Day is, to recognize all who have served. It is a time of reflection, celebration and remembrance. During the times I served I made friends that still continue to this day. And sadly, there are some friends that never made it home. One of my friends, PFC Vance T. Coats, at Fort Benning during basic training was one of the 23 killed during Operation Just Cause (Panama conflict). He is laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. I am thankful he was honored with a burial at that place. I am sure there are many veterans who have a similar story they can share as well about the friends they have lost. It becomes another part of something that is carried knowing there are two sides to this coin, it was a choice made to do what we do, and I wish there was something I could have done to make it better or make it different. We never forget those veterans who still remain in our hearts.
The times veterans share are numerous with many thinking about the good times, and it is this time of year that we stand tall and wear proudly the colors of who we are that run so deep. As the saying went back in the day, we all wear green and we all bleed red, together we are one. To this day I still feel that fraternal connection. It is a bond that is built and found nowhere else in life.
That is the spirit of the veteran. For me, the Infantry branch in which I served, willing to be there for my brother to the end. The movie series “Brothers in Arms” is a very appropriate title and an Army of One means something more than just a fancy slogan. To those who understand this and know the feeling in their heart you know who you are. To others the only way I can describe this is it has to be something that is experienced. The feeling and the bond that is built is a result of training, camaraderie and knowing that a person is going to be there for you regardless of your situation. It is the ultimate common denominator and it is this mindset that is a necessary to survive on the battlefield. Without it, lives become scattered, confused and lost.
This Veterans Day understand that each veteran has their own unique story experienced in their own unique way. It is an important story as it is often carried in the heart. It becomes a part of who they are; a part of the fabric of their being. Give a hug, give a thanks and a handshake, celebrate in the way that honors them, that is all they ask for if really asking at all. For me, I am humbled on Veterans Day as I believe that serving my country was not out of obligation but out of choice. It was something I really wanted to do, to have that experience, an honor to serve my country and know that as I grow older I can reflect back and think “we did it, didn’t we” We did it, collectively and generationally. I saw many changes during that time, Panama, Berlin Wall coming down and then Desert Storm. The world was changing fast at a mind dizzying pace, something each veteran has experienced during their time. I am confident that many of you will agree that what I signed up for and what I witnessed were two completely different worlds, but nevertheless, the experience is something I do not regret and will not forget. Thanks to all of my fellow veterans for making it manageable, to you I give thanks for being there. I hope you all have a blessed Veterans Day.