What is the most patriotic thing you’ve ever done? March in a parade? Fly the flag? Vote? Twenty-five million American veterans can say they proudly served in the U.S. Armed Forces, defending our freedoms and serving our nation.
Stephen Decatur, a hero of the Barbary Wars once toasted the nation, saying, “Our Country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right; but right or wrong, our country!” Although I cannot fully reconcile the slogan “our country, right or wrong” with my ethical and isolationist sensibilities, the fact is that members of the armed forces don’t get to pick and choose their battles. They stand ready to go anywhere, fight anywhere, and, if necessary, die anywhere in the service of freedom and for the United States of America.
When they entered the service they came from all walks of life: school teachers and bus drivers, store clerks and farmers, full-time students and stay-at-home moms. And they performed a variety of functions in the military: SEALs and supply clerks, medics and mechanics, pilots and personnel specialists. They are our grandfathers and grandmothers, our parents, our brothers and sisters, our neighbors, our colleagues, our friends, and our heroes.
Some bear the scars of combat quite literally; others suffer from emotional trauma. Too many are poor and homeless. Whatever their circumstances, they are not forgotten.
On this day, November 11, a grateful nation salutes all those who have worn the uniform of our great country. God bless all of our veterans, and God bless America.