Since 1954 the 11th day of November has been the day we remember our veterans. Previously it was Armistice Day marking the end of hostilities of World War I. It also coincides with other countries holiday’s such as Remembrance Day in Canada.
We take this day and this special opportunity to remember those who served and sacrificed for their country, for their families and for our liberties. The sacrifice these brave men and women put forth is sometimes that of their lives and for that we are truly grateful and that is why we have a special day for them, Memorial Day.
The sacrifice I wish to speak to today is of the dedication these people have for their service. Sacrifice in many ways is more than just dying in service of the country, but it is also in time away from their families and friends or even just a “normal civilian” life. We see it often where a young person gets married to their sweetheart and then they are off on a plane, a bus or a train heading for boot camp. They spend many months and sometimes years away from their new spouse in service of the nation. They’re only allotted 30 days of leave per year to go back home, if they choose, to visit their family and friends before they have to return to duty. Months go by before the young newlyweds can be reunited once the servicemember is assigned a permanent duty station and family housing is secured. Then take into consideration regular training missions, deployments overseas, deployments at sea, conflicts and wars which also take the servicemember away from their family for months at a time.
Other sacrifices veterans make come in the way of injuries both physical and mental. Sacrificing their well being, their bodies, their minds and their lives is part of the job and the risk that comes with military service. Not every veteran will have been injured while in service during combat but many are depending on what their job is and which service they’re in. There are also many injuries sustained in training mishaps all the time. While these injuries didn’t come from direct combat situations, they came on the heels of combat because they were training for war, training to do their jobs to protect their loved ones, their country and our freedoms back home.
When we take this day to honor our veterans for their service, we should also remember their sacrifice for the rest of us as well. They willingly chose to leave their new spouses, their children, family, friends and civilian ways of life behind when they didn’t have to and they did it for something larger than themselves. They chose to put themselves in harm’s way knowing that they could be called upon to engage our enemies in combat and risk injury to mind, limb and life. That also includes the same risks during routine training missions.
Our veterans gave up a lot to secure and protect our way of life and our freedoms. When you see a veteran don’t just thank them for their service, but rather thank them for their sacrifice.