“Grandpa, what’s a veteran? My teacher told us tomorrow was Veteran’s Day and I don’t know what it means.”
Well a veteran is any person who has ever served in the military service. “Why do they have a day? Are they special or something?”
Well little one, you are asking questions that deserve well thought-out answers. Let’s sit for a time and I’ll try to answer all your questions.
All through history it has been necessary for countries to have military forces to defend themselves when others try to invade and take their countries away from them. That is called war. America has had to defend herself many times since we first became a sovereign country. I served in our military and so did your Uncle Pete as well as your Aunt Thelma.
“So girls can be veterans too?” Yes they can and are. All through the years men and women together have stood side by side in defense of our country and our way of life. For many years women served only as nurses and other support services but today they can even join the fighting at the front of the battle. Many are flying jet fighter aircraft and driving tanks. They are warriors too.
“Tell me about war, Grandpa. Why do we have to have wars? Don’t people get hurt fighting in wars?”
Indeed they do. Hurt and even killed. But, military members have always been willing to give their all for their country. They do that so you can live free. They do that to protect your way of life. They do that because service is the sacred duty of a free people.
I don’t know why we have to have wars. I wish we didn’t. But what seems to happen is people in a far away land decide that their religion is the only true religion or that they just want what we have. Some see our free way of life and they are just jealous. And some people are just evil. They are evil and cunning. They get themselves in positions of power in their countries and they decide to start wars. They want to make their countries bigger. They want the natural resources that belong to their neighbors and so they start wars. It has been that way since the beginning of time.
“Are veterans just people who fought in wars, Grandpa?” No, in fact most aren’t. Most are just individuals who put their lives on hold to enter the military service to fulfill their duty to make sure our deterrent force was capable of defending this country. They served their time and returned to civilian life. Most are probably a lot like me. They are proud of their time in the service and are happy they served.
On Veteran’s Day, though, we honor all who served. We honor those who fought wars. We honor those who were wounded and those who died fighting and didn’t return. We honor their families, their moms and dads, their sisters and brothers. We especially honor their wives and husbands. Their sacrifice can never be truly known or appreciated by anyone but them. We also honor those who only gave their time; those who joined but were never asked to fight. They all signed the same blank check payable to America, willing to serve and die if necessary that we all might remain free.
And so, little one, we set aside one day each year to especially pay tribute to our veterans. If you see a veteran, thank him or her for their service. Thank them for the life you have and the freedom you enjoy. I am thankful for Veteran’s Day. In fact I wish every day was Veteran’s Day.