Next Monday is a special day in many countries around
the world. At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the
11th month in 1918 the Armistice was signed ending the
"War to end all Wars." Arguably, that war was probably
the most devastating to all parties in many respects.
And, we now know that it really didn't end "all" the
wars afterward. Originally, this day was set aside
as "Remembrance Day" or "Armistice Day" depending on
where you lived. Today, in the US we call it Veteran's
Day to honor ALL veterans from all wars wherever and
whenever they occurred.
WHAT IS A WARRIOR?
She/he is a 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 gas.
He is the barroom loudmouth, dumber than five wooden
planks, whose overgrown redneck frat-boy behavior is
outweighed a hundred times in the cosmic scales by
four hours of exquisite valor and courage near the
38th parallel in the 50's.
She is the nurse who fought against futility and went
to sleep crying every night for two solid years in Da Nang.
He is the POW who went away one person and came back
another - or didn't come back at all.
He is the Parris Island drill instructor who has never
seen combat - but has saved countless lives by turning
slouchy, no-account rednecks and gang members into
Marines, teaching them to watch each other's backs.
He is a parade-riding Legionnaire who pins on his
ribbons and medals with a prosthetic hand.
They are the three anonymous heroes in the Tomb of
the Unknowns, whose very presence at Arlington National
Cemetery must forever preserve the memory of ALL
anonymous heroes whose valor died unrecognized with
them on the battlefield, in the ocean's sunless deep,
or in the boundless skies above.
He is the boatswain's mate, not much academically
in school, who ties the knots and makes sure that
the ship is safe for the rest of the crew.
He is that old guy 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 wife were still alive
to hold him when the nightmares come.
They are ordinary and yet extraordinary human
beings - persons who offered some of their life's
most vital and productive years in the service of
their country, and who sacrificed ambitions so
others would not have to sacrifice theirs.
They are a warrior, a savior, and a sword against
the forces of darkness, and nothing less than the
finest and greatest testimonies on behalf of the
best humanity has to offer.
So, while in that "War to end all Wars" we are
probably talking about men, since that time we
know that WOMEN and MEN share the title of warrior
on our behalf. Remember, each time you see someone,
anyone, who has served your country, just walk
over or lean over and say "Thank You." That's all
most people will ever need, and in most cases it
will mean much more than any medals or citations
they could have been or were awarded.
Two simple little words: THANK YOU.
It is the warrior, not the reporter, who purchased
the freedom of the press for you.
It is the warrior, not the poet, who purchased the
freedom of speech for you.
It is the warrior, not the clergy, who purchased
the freedom of religious expression for you.
It is the warrior, not the campus organizer, who
purchased the freedom to demonstrate peaceably for you.
And, it is the warrior who salutes the flag, who
serves others with respect for the flag, and whose
coffin is draped with that flag, who gives the
protester the right to burn the flag.
THANK YOU shipmates, wherever you might be, for your
service to our country. May our children never know
the lessons our fathers had to learn the hard way.