11.13.2006

Honoring our Veterans every day

On Saturday, we, as a nation, honored our Veterans. All around the country people gathered for services small and large to pay tribute to the men and women who have answered duty's call to defend our nation and our ideals.

One thing that you notice at these ceremonies is the way in which the old Veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam interact with one another. They talk about what they have all been up to since the last time they saw one another and they remember those who are no longer with them, but they very rarely - if ever - talk about war. They may talk about basic training and other military service, but the subject of the wars they fought or the battles in which they participated almost never comes up.

For the first time, I realize why.

For the Veterans, the men and women who have seen war firsthand, there is nothing more for them to say. By having served in a war, no matter which one it was, they have a shared experience of having faced death and destruction with courage and honor. It is a bond that transcends age, race, ethnicity, and religion. It is a bond that is simply understood and accepted. It is the bond of camaraderie and the knowledge that in battle you fight not for God or country, but your brother who is beside you. That is the bond only these men share.

We owe the men who fought in our nation's wars a debt of gratitude that none of us can ever fully repay, but still we must try.

We honor our Veterans with speeches and songs on Veterans' Day and Memorial Day, but we must not stop there. Honoring our Veterans, both past and present, is something we must do in our everyday lives, not only once or twice a year.

We honor our Veterans by cherishing our Freedoms and our way of life. The First Amendment Freedoms that we hold so dear were secured not with the stroke of a pen or a judge's gavel, but with the blood and sweat of our Veterans. When evil forces threatened the Freedom and safety of people in far off lands, our Veterans were the ones to answer the call and defend not only the United States, but the Freedom and safety of all people throughout the world.

Let us never forget them or what they have done for us.