Nothing. One tiny scratch on my hand received when jumping into a bunker during a rocket attack in Vietnam on my radar site at Pleiku. I'm a very fortunate veteran. My mother was also a veteran: she served as a WAC served in Italy during World War II as a telegraph operator when the Luftwaffe was still bombing Bari. My Grandpa John: an Army Field Clerk (a rank that's now obsolete) who served in World War I - but never went overseas. My Fourth Great-Grandfather Jeremiah: a private in the New Jersey Militia during the Revolutionary War. Veterans all. It's an honor to be a veteran, regardless what "little" or "much" we did, or where or when we did it.
I wondered what I was going to blog on Veterans' Day. Surfing the Internet today for fun, I came across the following essay written by a US Marine Chaplain, that deserves to be shared in today's blog:
WHAT IS A VET: Some veterans bear visible signs of their service: a missing limb, a jagged scar, a certain look in the eye. Others may carry the evidence inside them: a pin holding a bone together, a piece of shrapnel in the leg - or perhaps another sort of inner steel: the soul´s ally forged in the refinery of adversity. Except in parades, however, the men and women who have kept America safe wear no badge or emblem. You can´t tell a vet just by looking. What is a Vet?
A vet is the cop on the beat who spent six months in Saudi Arabia sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carriers didn't run out of fuel. The barroom loudmouth, dumber than five wooden planks, whose overgrown frat-boy behavior is outweighed a hundred times in the cosmic scales by four hours of exquisite bravery near the 38th parallel. The nurse who fought against futility and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years in Da Nang.
A vet is the POW who went away one person and came back another - or didn't come back AT ALL. The Quantico drill instructor who has never seen combat - but has saved countless lives by turning slouchy, no-account rednecks and gang members into Marines, and teaching them to watch each other's backs. He/She is the parade-riding Legionnaire who pins on ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand. The career quartermaster who watches the ribbons and medals pass him by. The three anonymous heroes in The Tomb Of The Unknowns, whose presence at the Arlington National Cemetery must forever preserve the memory of all the anonymous heroes whose valor dies unrecognized with them on the battlefield or in the ocean's sunless deep.
A vet is the old person bagging groceries at the supermarket - palsied now and aggravatingly slow - who helped liberate a Nazi death camp and who wishes all day long that his/her spouse were still alive to hold him when the nightmares come. An ordinary and yet an extraordinary human being - a person who offered some of life's most vital years in the service of his country, and who sacrificed his ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs. A soldier and a savior and a sword against the darkness, and he/she is nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the finest, greatest nation ever known.
So remember, each time you see someone who has served our country, just lean over and say Thank You. That's all most people need, and in most cases it will mean more than any medals they could have been awarded or were awarded. Two little words that mean a lot, THANK YOU.
Remember November 11th is Veterans Day! It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who has given us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier, who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.
by Father Dennis Edward OBrien, Chaplain, United States Marine Corps