Veterans Day was this past Monday, November 11th, and I truly hope that all veterans across Muscatine County know just how appreciated they are. The same goes for all our active duty military members that are, at the same moment you’re reading this, miles away from home fighting to keep us safe and free. My challenge to you is to say, “thank you,” to veterans and active duty military members the other 364 days out of the year.
Sometimes, spotting a veteran is easy. At Hy-Vee, I’m constantly seeing folks wearing hats indicating their service. The majority of those are Vietnam veterans who quite honestly, should be thanked sincerely more often. I think about our Vietnam veterans often, those young men that were sent off to war and were not welcomed back home with open arms. That makes me sad and angry at the same time. It wasn’t their choice to wage war, but they still showed up and did what was asked of them. That deserves our respect and appreciation.
The same goes for veterans that served in Iraq or Afghanistan. I was a senior in high school on September 11th, and several of my classmates that year made the choice to enlist upon graduation. The majority of those classmates made it back home, while a few others made the ultimate sacrifice, all so that we can be free. At the same time that I was getting adjusted into freshman year at St. Ambrose, some of my friends were completing basic training and being sent overseas. That really puts things into perspective for me.
Just when I think I’m stressed out, I try to take pause and think of the men and women that will be away from their families for Thanksgiving and Christmas. All of a sudden, my problems don’t seem so bad.
What about folks like the late Bob Morrison who brought the Honor Flight to the Quad Cities and helped veterans make it to Washington, DC to visit memorials that honor their efforts? I’m assuming you knew that Bob lived in Muscatine and how much work it took to make every Honor Flight a success.
My Grandpa Bill proudly served his country during World War II in the US Navy. I remember growing up and asking him about the navy tattoo that he had on his right arm. Grandpa’s brother, Tommy also served but did not return home. In the back-porch TV room at Grandma and Grandpa’s house was a framed letter from President Franklin Delano Roosevelt thanking Tommy for his service. That, along with his framed Purple Heart, have stuck with me all these years.
So even though you’re reading this a day or two after Veteran’s Day, I encourage you to recognize those brave men and women as often as possible. To the men and women who served this country I say, “thank you!” To the active duty service members, “thank you and please come home safely.” God bless America and God bless all veterans.