Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day

There never seems to be the right words that could express the gratitude I feel for our veterans. My father, long gone, was a veteran. For those of you who have read me for a while know his story and know that the Army literally saved his life.

I love our military from the bottom of heart.

Jim Bell sent me this from the Lufkin Daily News. I think it expresses what so many feel. A soldier who wonders, "Why not me?"

I spent an entire career in the military. Not once was I called upon to risk my life in combat. I still don't know why. Every veteran can tell you, once you don the uniform, you're government property. The old joke regarding Uncle Sam's motto went, "Once you sign, your butt's all mine."

So looking at these memorials to the men an women who died in action, I wondered again, ''Why not me?'' What made me so different that I would be allowed to live long enough to raise a family, watch my children grow and to stand and watch sunsets over the water -- when these young men never had the same chance? Why wasn't it ever my turn to leap from a landing craft trying to make it to a beach, knowing my next step was probably my last? Why wasn't I ever asked to ride in a Hummer somewhere in the Middle East while waiting on some IED to send me back to my own veteran's cemetery marker? Why didn't my parents ever have to experience a visit from an officer and a chaplain telling them the next time they saw me I'd be in a box? Why not me?

In the movie "Saving Private Ryan," Tom Hanks plays Capt. John Miller, an Army Ranger whose squad is assigned the task of rescuing the last surviving Ryan brother. At the end, Miller lies mortally wounded; with his dying breath, he tells the young Ryan, "Earn this. Earn it."

Maybe that's my answer. My gift -- any veteran's gift -- from those fallen soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines was the chance to earn the right to live a longer life. All we have to do is earn it. Live the best we can. Remind ourselves why we weren't ever called to die in combat.

It's because the people in these cemeteries did it for us. They offered us the gifts of life and freedom.

It's up to us to earn them.