I have broken this out on my old blog several times in the past, and I will continue to do so as long as I write. What makes this year extra special – one of my greatest friends, has finally retired ….and I am proud to call him my brother.
This friend is one of my nearest and dearest. One who I would go to the ends of the earth for if he asked. He and I went over the humps at Basic, lived in open bays and did flutter kicks in AIT, went our separate ways and finally reconnected later in life. He came to see me off at Frankfurt when I ETS’ed and has been a guest in my home. He’s one of the few that have really known me my entire adult life, and I love him like a brother. Of course I am talking about CW4 Gordon Miller. “Chief” is still in the Army, although he is in the swansong of his career. For his friendship and sacrifice to this country, I hope he realizes that all he needs to do is ask…although I know he never will. That’s the way he roles. Self sacrifice is his middle name. He is and always will be my “Gordo” and I salute him. Thanks Man….Happy Veteran’s Day.
The rest of this post is actually a speech his daughter wrote…..please read, remember and share with your friends and veterans.
Veteran’s Day Speech
For as long as I can remember, Veteran’s Day has been celebrated at my school by everyone meeting in the gym to hear some people speak about the importance of the day. We salute the former soldiers and the current ones that come to our school to commemorate the day. But when I was little, it started out as just another assembly, just another day. It wasn’t until I was in early middle school that I learned what Veteran’s Day really means.
It dawned on me when I was talking to my father, who has been a soldier in our military for twenty years. I only get to see him in the summer sometimes, and other times we talk over the phone. I had called him one day just to talk to him and it was shortly after Veteran’s Day in sixth grade. After we talked about what he was doing for a while, we moved on to what I had been doing.
“Well,” I said slowly. “We went to a Veteran’s Day assembly not too long ago.”
“That’s cool.” replied my dad. “So, who was there?”
“Just some old dudes that had retired from the military, all our teachers, and all the other students.” I replied thinking back. It was at that moment, which a question popped into my mind. “Dad, are you a veteran?”
“Yeah sweetheart,” he told me plainly. “Veterans can be anyone that has fought for our country.”
“Even if they’re still fighting?” I ask.
“Yeah.” he replied back. It was then that I realized how Veteran’s Day really affected my life. It wasn’t just about an assembly anymore where my school met to observe the day of veterans. It more than that now; it was about my family, especially my father.
As a child, I was narrow-minded; I never looked at the big picture. I never paid attention to what we were going through as a country, which was of course until the September 11th attacks. I remember everyone turning on their TVs and watching the news. I didn’t care at first; the news bored me at the time. What got my attention was when some of the teachers started to cry. I was confused and when I got home I asked my mom about it. She told me that the Twin Towers in New York had been attacked by terrorists. Terrorists, it was a new word for me. I was in third grade at the time, and “terrorists” wasn’t something they taught you back then. However, I still understood the word “Terror”. Then she told me how the attacks had killed a lot of people. Death was something else I was familiar with. I live by a country road and a few of our family dogs had already been killed by speeders. When I imagined the death of the attacks that day, I imagined the feeling of losing one of the pets that had loved deeply. But it wasn’t dogs that had died, it was people. People like you would meet everyday. When I asked why the attacks happened, my mother just told me it was because some people were angry with the U.S. When I asked what we had done wrong she told me that we were just living freely. We had freedom that most others didn’t have.
Then I remembered something my dad told me once. Soldiers protect our nation, and something just as important; the freedom we live by everyday. In the years to come, I learned just what he meant by freedom.
The origin of our freedom lies with the birth of our country. As our country started, I learned that we broke away from England and became independent. Our forefathers created the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, each stood for the freedom that we as a country stand for today. After that we fought England for our freedom and won, making independence official. But it didn’t get any easier after that.
We fought with ourselves in the Civil War and continued to fight other countries. Finally, the entire civilized world went to war. World War 1 took place from 1917 to 1918. After this war, in 1919, President Wilson proclaimed that November 11th would be celebrated as Armistice Day. This day was originally made to honor the veterans of World War I. But after World War II took place from 1941 to 1945, and the Korean War took place from 1950 to 1953, Congress decided to change the name of the day to Veteran’s Day. This is so that all veterans that have served can be honored. This was approved in the year 1954 and has been so ever since.
Since then, we have fought in the Vietnam War, Desert Storm, and even now continue to fight in the Iraqi War. Men and women of our country have fought and died to protect our country and its beliefs. We’ve also fought to aid others who share our values of a better way of life. We may not have won every time, but we’ve stood our ground.
Veteran’s Day is especially important to me because I get to thank my dad. He’s not just my father; he’s a man that is risking his life for me almost everyday. Why? So I can have the freedom to be a Christian. So I can speak out on what I believe. So everyone can assemble to honor veterans on Veteran’s Day. Without our veterans, we wouldn’t be the country we are today. We would be just some other country who is suffering under the tyranny of a dictating government. I for one would not like that life. Where I would have no voice, where what I feel and think doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter who you are, everyone has an opinion and no one’s opinion is greater than anyone else’s. Some might think another’s opinions are incorrect or unjust, but everyone has a right to express themselves by their voice, to express their opinion.
I would like to end by thanking our veterans who have fought and others who have died for our beloved country. The men and women who have taken on the task of taking up arms and fighting for their freedom; but not just their freedom, for everyone’s freedom. The freedom that we are given at birth; what we deserve in order to live a fulfilling and purposeful life. So, thank you veterans. I hope my words have encouraged everyone that has listened and I hope that we’ll keep fighting no matter what. Thank you.