Throughout history the world has depended on fighting men, and increasingly fighting women, to stand up to authority and threats to personal safety and to defend cultures. Many have died for both good reasons and bad, but the injured (psychologically and physically) have carried the experience of veterans to an extreme. The quiet among us are the brave warriors who dared to live through their experiences and find ways to contribute to society.
So what of all this you might ask? Well, I find it to be quite a statement that in today’s world, right here in the U.S. of A, we have a million-person all-volunteer military that is truly the envy of the world in capability and performance. You might disagree with war or the politics of sending our troops into harm’s way, but that is for a different discussion. Our men and women still volunteer, even during
the many years of terrorist activities around the world.
Perhaps cynics would say they join the military because they have nowhere to go or have no skills. Quite the contrary. Our young men and women still volunteer for a sense of purpose, a sense of being part of history, to learn new skills and to be a patriot. And yes, it can be a good career and provide stability, training and discipline that many young people need if not crave.
Respecting veterans for their choice, sacrifice and patriotism is something that should touch us all as the world remains a dangerous place that peaceful people still need to defend. You would think after a millennium or two, we humans could have figured out how to coexist, be peaceful and be respectful of our differences.
Yet we rely on our young people to defend our rights and freedoms. Remember not only the soldiers, but all those who provide service to our communities, for they all make sacrifices and put themselves out there for our benefit … to defend us even when we disagree with our own leaders. The men and women of the military should be treated with respect and appreciation along with the many who serve us locally as police officers, firefighters and EMTs.
Let us take a step back from our own feelings, politics and prejudices and take some time to recognize the importance of our veterans, the lessons we can learn from them and how we can treat our fellow man.
Respect, dignity, honor, duty, service, sacrifice and commitment: If we all had more of these qualities, just think how much better we all would be.
Air Force, 1977-1981
Vito Simone is a Pikesville resident and a member of Moses Montefiore Anshe Emunah.