I first wrote this for Veterans Day in 2009. On Veterans Day, we note the spirit of service. Here are some examples:
The Ft. Hood 13
Today comes another Veteran’s Day. Many of us recall a grandfather who served or an uncle who endured. The 13 who were killed at Ft. Hood exemplify the hundreds of thousands who have endured in this generation’s two wars.
CW2 (Ret) Cahill was killed at the age of 62. Retired, he came back to Ft. Hood to serve those deploying and returning. When I went to Iraq in 2005, many of those appearing with me at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina were retirees who volunteered to come back to active service and lend a hand.
After retiring as a major with service in the National Guard, CPT Gaffaney persisted for three years in his attempts to return to the Guard as a psychiatric nurse, his civilian occupation. Hampered by a hearing deficit, he pushed to serve. He finally returned for a second career as a Reserve officer. When I reported to Ft. Jackson in 2005, we had one Lieutenant-Colonel, who pushed and pushed for two weeks to be sent to Iraq. He had diabetes. He swore that his meds could be obtained in Iraq. But, the medical folks at Ft. Jackson did not believe him and would not let him go.
When I was in Iraq in 2005-06, I went on a mission to visit some significant Iraqi officials. On that convoy was a young female NCO. She had graduated from college right after 9/11 with an engineering degree. She joined the Army as an enlisted person and became an intelligence analyst, a very good one. Here she was going outside the wire to collect intelligence. She could have been anywhere that day, but she chose to be in Iraq, risking IED’s and more to collect critical information first hand.
In 2005, the large group of us, some 100 of us, were sent to California after Ft. Jackson. We were to marry up with our Civil Affairs units and conduct train. We had seven “full bird” Colonels in our group. A sharp, able bunch. The Civil Affairs brigade called them to a meeting. The brigade told the Colonels, ” we have some good news for you, we do not need you and you can go home.” The Colonels responded, “no, you called us from our civilian jobs, you must take us. We are here to serve and we will serve.” One or two had contacts at the Pentagon. They pressured the Civil Affairs Brigade to take them and put them to work. They refused to be sent home. All seven served their tours with distinction.
I served as Commander of a drill sergeant battalion in 2007. I could not help but notice how many fine young people were volunteering for service during a time of two wars. Today’s soldiers, marines, airmen and sailors accept the same risks their grandfathers and fathers accepted. A couple of the drill sergeants mentioned in briefings that they had to respect the young soldiers joining now in time of war.
Pres. Obama said in a Veterans Day speech, 2009: “. . . here is what you must know: Your loved ones endure throughout the life of our nation. Their memory wil be honored in the places they lived and by the people they touched. Their life’s work is our security, and the freedom that we all too often take for granted. Every evening that the sun sets on a tranquil town; every dawn that a flag is unfurled; every moment that an American enjoys life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — that is their legacy.”
When I entered the military in the 1980’s, older citizens would question our generation. Would they serve as the “Greatest Generation” served in the 1940’s? Yes, they have, we have, over and over.
Thank a vet today for his/her service.