Most of us have a classmate, relative or family friend who has been in the military,
possibly even during wartime. All too often, we never contemplate the sacrifices these veterans
have so selflessly made in order that Americans stay free, safe and secure.
Veterans’ Day, like Memorial Day, is a day of remembering our former military
members have made.
Our forefathers put their lives on the line to fight in The Revolutionary War so that the
Colonists could be independent from England. Our grandparents fought in the Vietnam War (or
for older students, WWII or The Korean Conflict). Many of us have brothers, sisters, aunts,
uncles and cousins who fought in Desert Storm, the Gulf War, and Afghanistan.
While Arlington National Cemetery holds the graves of more than 400,000 of our fallen
heroes, we are grateful that most have returned to their families, friends and communities.
Yet our veterans are often treated poorly when they return to civilian life. Oftentimes not
enough money is allocated for them for adequate housing, food and medical treatment. Veterans’
facilities are an embarrassment.
Many Vietnam veterans have ended up living on the streets, thrown away like a piece of
garbage. They did not ask to be drafted, yet were yanked away from their families, sent to boot
camp, put through hell, and then handed a rifle and told to shoot or be shot. It is no great surprise
that oftentimes they returned with physical problems and many developed drug and alcohol
dependencies and PTSD.
While our current military is thankfully volunteer, that was not always the case. Often
family members talk about an uncle who was drafted and sent to war, but returned in a coffin.
Some never returned at all, while many of those who did return are not the same.
While many of us may think that we do not know any veterans, all we have to do is look
around and we may be surprised. They are all over MCC, West Michigan, our state, the
Midwest, and the U.S. Most of us have several veterans in our family tree.
We urge everyone to look around, not just on Veterans’ Day, but every day. Some choose
to be anonymous while others proudly display their status. For those who are proud of their
service to country, be sure to thank them. When you see those men or women in their uniform at
church, in the community, or in an airport, tell them you appreciate what they are doing for our
They have undergone grueling torture just to make it out of boot camp. From there they
have gone on to work thankless jobs that most of us cannot comprehend. They have worked
outside in extreme temperatures. They also have seen incredible horrors that they no doubt
would like to forget, but often can’t.
So please, take a moment to contemplate the sacrifices our veterans have made and be
thankful. Then tell them. It just might make their day, their week, or their entire existence.