On Memorial Day we honor those who have served their country with dignity and honor – those who have put their lives on the line for the benefit and safety of others. A selfless act which has somehow been sullied over time.
Just what does it take to consider yourself a veteran? My husband served in the Air National Guard at the time of the Bay of Pigs Invasion. He entered this branch of service, served six months of active duty and summer camp for six year following. He does not consider himself a veteran, because he did not go the regular route and serve all his time at once. I appreciate his humility, but in my eyes he is still a hero.
During that time of active duty, his unit was called along with others to get to their bases immediately and be prepared to take off in the darkness of night, to fight the communists in Cuba. They were told to run stop lights getting there. The urgency in the order sent chills up his spine, but he knew he was prepared. They waited – and waited – and waited. At last they were sent home when an agreement was made between the countries involved.
My husband never faced the enemy in war. He never had to watch as his friends as they were shot and killed or lost limbs and the will to go on. He never suffered PTSD. The stories of his time in the Air Force are not filled with anxiety, hatred, anger or fear like so many of our returning soldiers who faced combat, but still he was willing to serve his country if need be.
We have friends and family who have returned from Korea, Viet Nam, the Middle East – scarred by their experiences. There is no way to explain the pangs of hell a soldier must face each time they enter the combat arena. They are exposed to all kinds of emotions and danger that we can’t begin to comprehend. When they return home, they suffer from nightmares, flash backs and memories of horrible acts against humanity. These are the veterans we most talk about. Then there are those who are MIA or POW who are never heard of again. We remember their service, but they soon become a faded memory.
What about those who return home to protesting mobs, angry pacifists, and an onslaught of ingratitude? Where is their honor? They filled their duty as good soldiers. They were as much heroes as those who gave their lives. They returned to a sea of hatred which far surpassed the enemies they had to face overseas.
Do we give our veterans the honor they deserve? If you follow the path of those requiring health care because of a war injury or PTSD or the results of chemical warfare and living in the heat of battle each day, you often find them waiting for long periods of time for treatment, or not getting the best.
We live only a few block from a campus which once served an asylum for the mentally disturbed. It sits on the banks of the Rum River, surrounded by trees and the sound of nature all around. The buildings have been vacant for many years, but are now in the process of being restored to be used for homeless veterans, who need a starting off point to get acclimated back into society. I’m so glad this is being done for them, but saddened that it comes to that.
Our returning soldiers should be honored for their service, but they shouldn’t be the last to be hired. Their unselfish service seems to have no bearing on getting jobs, shelter or mental and physical treatment.
Jesus was the perfect example of how we should live, but He is best known for his suffering, death and resurrection. He did battle against the evils of this world and won. His victory over sin and death is our great heritage. He took our place on the battlefield against the devil.When we make a sacrifice to help another person, we are in a small way imitating Him. Today and every day, let’s be grateful to those who are willing to give their lives for others.