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Celebrating Veterans Day

Oct 27, 2023

Vince Socci, 1st Vice Commander, American Legion Post 22

Every year, on the 11th day of November, our nation comes together to honor the men and women who braved extraordinary sacrifices to defend our freedom and protect our country. Veterans Day is a time for us to pay tribute to those who have served in the armed forces. It recognizes their courage, dedication, and unwavering commitment to our nation. It's a day to reflect on the importance of veterans to our country, to remember their character, their bravery, and to express our gratitude for their selfless service.

Veterans include all the men and women who have served honorably in the Armed Forces of America.  They may have served in the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard, or Space Force.  Whether they were full-time servicemen or served in the Reserves or National Guard, they are veterans just the same. Every one of them took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. Each signed a blank check to Uncle Sam for payment up to and including their own lives. They were attacked by our enemies with the same steel bullets and explosives. Every one committed to move forward into battle when called, promising to fight to their death. So all who served in our Armed Forces should be honored as American veterans.

The Character of a Veteran

One word that encapsulates the character of a veteran is "service." Veterans have answered the call of duty, willing to put themselves in harm's way for the sake of their fellow citizens. They embody values such as honor, integrity, patriotism, and selflessness. They exercise courage, resilience, respect, and loyalty. These are the men and women who have chosen to put their lives on hold, to sacrifice time with their families, and to endure the physical and emotional tolls of military service. They missed family birthdays and holidays as they stood guard at their posts to defend our nation.

Veterans are often driven by a profound sense of duty, a commitment to protecting the freedoms we hold dear. They understand that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance and are willing to pay that price. Whether it's defending our shores, fighting in foreign lands, or providing aid in times of disaster, veterans are always ready to step forward and serve.

Defenders of Freedom

The history of our nation is intricately woven with the stories of veterans who have defended our freedom in times of war and peace. From the American Revolution to the global conflicts of the 21st century, veterans have been the backbone of our national defense.

Imagine the courage it took for those young soldiers to storm the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, to face the horrors of the trenches during World War I, to endure the sweltering jungles of Vietnam, or to charge into dark rooms against suicide bombers in the Persian Gulf. These veterans were not just fighting for themselves; they were fighting for their fellow citizens, for the idea that freedom and democracy are worth protecting at all costs.

But it's not just in times of war that veterans make a difference. Many have served in humanitarian missions, offering aid and comfort to those in need. They've deployed to disaster-stricken areas, helping communities rebuild and recover. They rescued citizens stranded in hurricanes and delivered food and supplies to victims of disasters. Veterans are not only warriors but also compassionate souls who understand the value of lending a helping hand.

A Willingness to Go Into Danger

One of the most admirable qualities of veterans is their willingness to go into harm's way without hesitation. They do not shy away from danger; they confront it head-on. It takes an extraordinary kind of courage to face the unknown, to stand up to the enemy, and to protect one's comrades.

On Veterans Day, we must remember that our veterans have played an indispensable role in defending our freedom, both at home and abroad. From the battlefields of World War II to the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan, they have confronted tyranny and oppression head-on. Their actions have not only protected our homeland but have also promoted democracy and liberty worldwide.

As each veteran joined our Armed Forces, they promised to willingly run into danger and fight to their death to protect our freedom.  Many were called out on that promise. It is easy to make a promise, but it is so difficult to deliver on it. The soldiers we honor today willingly made that promise and charged forward. They had the courage to deliver - despite the fear and uncertainty of what laid before them. Heroes don't doubt. They just do.

Serving and Protecting Our Country

Service is at the core of a veteran's identity. They have dedicated themselves to a life of service, not just during their time in the military, but often in their civilian lives as well. Veterans bring their strong work ethic, discipline, and leadership skills to various fields, enriching our society in countless ways.

When their military careers are complete, our veterans assimilate back into civilian society as productive members of the local communities. They become teachers, doctors, police officers, firefighters, entrepreneurs, volunteers, and other community leaders. They continue to serve and protect our country long after their military service is complete. Their commitment to making our nation a better place is unwavering.

Honoring Veterans on Veterans Day

So, why is it important to honor veterans on Veterans Day? The answer is simple: to show our gratitude for their protection, to acknowledge their sacrifices and service, and to remind ourselves of the principles that our nation stands for. By honoring veterans, we reaffirm our commitment to the values of freedom, democracy, and service that our country holds dear..

Veterans wear their badge proudly.  The old man at the mall with “WWII Vet” embroidered on his ball cap and the young Army officer starting her new leadership position at the Melbourne corporation each take pride in their military service.  When you see them, acknowledge their service and sacrifice. They put your needs ahead of their comfort. They stood up for America, our flag, and our values.  We can stand up for them.

It's not just a matter of offering a token "thank you." It's about recognizing the depth of their sacrifice, understanding the hardships they've endured, and appreciating the liberties we enjoy because of their dedication.  They fought for our freedom, so we honor them by living a life worth fighting for.

Veterans Still Fighting a Battle

Not all veterans have made a smooth transition back into civilian society.  Some continue to struggle daily. They have been through traumatic experiences and received life-altering injuries in their service. Those impacts are a constant reminder and a continuing battle for many veterans.

Veterans have seen the worst humanity has to offer, and they faced it with courage. When they come home bearing scars - physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual - those who bravely cared for us need someone to care for them.

The American Legion: An Organization That Helps Veterans

While we can express our gratitude to veterans individually, there are also organizations that play a crucial role in supporting and advocating for our veterans. One such organization is the American Legion.

Founded in 1919, the American Legion is a community of veterans, dedicated to the principles of patriotism, mentoring, and service. This organization provides many programs and services aimed at improving the lives of veterans and their families. The American Legion fosters a sense of camaraderie among veterans, providing a supportive network for those who have served. It is truly veterans helping veterans.

Standing Up for our Veterans

As we approach Veterans Day, let us remember the character of our veterans – their courage, their willingness to go into danger, their dedication to service, and their unwavering commitment to protecting our country and defending our freedom. It is incumbent upon all of us to honor and support our veterans, not just on this special day but every day.

The American Legion, with its rich history and commitment to veterans and their families, serves as an example of how we can collectively make a difference in the lives of those who have served. Let us follow their lead and actively engage in acts of gratitude, support, and service to our veterans.

In the end, honoring veterans is not just a tradition; it's a reflection of who we are as a nation. It's a way to express our gratitude for the sacrifices made on our behalf and to ensure that the spirit of service and sacrifice continues to flourish in our society.

This Veterans Day, let us come together to celebrate our heroes and renew our commitment to a nation that values freedom, liberty, democracy, and service above all else. Today and every day we honor our veterans.  Their sacrifices are the bedrock upon which our nation's freedom stands.