Monday, November 10, 2008

We all know who they are...

...and we've heard some of the stories of what they have done. They've put it on the line time and time again to help keep us what we are. While some have paid ultimate price, they and their families have all given something. I won't go into specifics, but we know those who I am referring to. Our veterans! I have been fortunate enough to know many, to meet several others and to have even a few of them tell me some of their stories about their ordeals. I think of them all every day.

Granted, living in a town who's sole exisitence depends on the memories of some of these mean and their struggles to preserve freedom, it is hard not to be reminded of them on an almost-constant basis. I'm glad that's the case. The monuments and graves will hopefully live on forever, just like the memories of those the monuments honor, and the country they've all helped to preserve. Yet there are many others who seem to be forgotten about because their wars and their ordeals don't appear to be popular or patriotic.

It has always amazed me that the very same people our veterans are defending are sometimes the first in line to blame or to try to persecute the troops involved because the war is unpopular. It is not the job of the individual soldier, sailor, airman, or marine to question the war, and given the choice, they wouldn't be there. They go because their country asked them to, and because it is their duty. Hate the war? Fine! Just don't hate the men and women who are there.

It is a bit ironic that this year, Veteran's Day comes just a week after election day. How many of you reading this did not vote? That's your choice, and our veterans have made that choice possible. They also went to war to preserve your right to vote. If you were eligible to vote and for some reason chose not to, shame on you!

That said, no matter what you have or haven't done recently, take a moment or to and remember our veterans of all wars. If you see any veterans out there, don't be afraid or ashamed to walk up to them, thank them and shake their hand. I do it all the time. Most are a bit surprised at first, but all are glad that someone remembers them! You don't have to wait until a holiday comes along to do so, either. Do it all the time.

By the way, the distinguished looking, older gentleman in the photo above is Joe Lesniewski. Joe is an Easy Co. 506th PIR veteran, and was featured in Band of Brothers. Joe trained at Camp Toccoa, jumped into Normandy (til this very day, he is not sure just exactly where he landed, though!), jumped into Holland, defended Bastogne, and made the climb to the Eagle's Nest. Joe saw and lived through more hardship in a few years than anyone should ever have to endure. Yet he survived and went on to live a good life in a thankful country.I had the pleasure of meeting Joe and spending some time talking with him a few years ago. What can I say? It was quite an honor, and I am thankful I had the opportunity. I spent about 2 hours with him, and could have easily spent two months. The man, just like many others of his kind, is truly a national treasure! They all should know how much we respect and admire them, and how thankful we are for what they have done.
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