"He's A Veteran!"
He's a man who looks the world in the eye. He's a man who feels an extra heart-tug when the flag goes by. He's a man who steps a little faster when he hears the beat of a military band. He's a Veteran.
He comes in all assorted sizes and shapes. He's a big man, he's a small man...he's a short man, he's a tall man. He is the "Doughboy" of World War I...the "GI" of World War II... He's a man who's seen Korean skies, fought the cold and silent battle of uneasy Berlin....and braved the booby traps and ambushes of Ia Drang Valley in Viet Nam. He's a Veteran.
He's a sailor....soldier...Marine. He's a flyer...seabee...coast guard. He's artillery...infantry..medic...aviation machinist mate....armored and ordnance.. He's a Veteran.
He has the quiet dignity of a man who knows the pride of freedom ...He has the clear eyes of a man who respects himself. He is courage living on Main Street. He is patriotism mowing the lawn on Saturday afternoon. He is good citizenship with a smile on his face. He's a Veteran.
He is Republican, Democrat, Independent/..He is mechanic, farmer, banker... He is Catholic, Protestant, Jew... He is rich and poor and in-between. He's a Veteran
He's a man who loves peace because he knows the price tag of war. He's a member of history's most exclusive fraternity. He knows that war is ninety percent boredom and ten percent sheer terror. He's been there. He's a Veteran.
He likes the majesty of America's mountains...the tranquility of America's valleys. He likes the bustle of America's cities and the friendliness of America's Main Streets. He likes the sound of America's children playing on the American playgrounds. He likes to watch the flag go by... He feels a bit sad when he hears the sound of an American bugler playing "Taps". He is a citizen soldier...Peacetime leader... He's the first to volunteer in time of trouble...and the last to come home. He's a Veteran.
He is proud of his American past...alert to his American present...confident of his American future. He likes the legends of America's greats...the Washingtons...the Jeffersons...the Abraham Lincolns...the Roosevelts...the Robert E. Lees....The Stonewall Jacksons...the Pattons...the Eisenhowers...the MacArthurs...the Nimitzs....the Pullers....the Dalys and all the proud patriots who have marched through America's history books. He's a Veteran.
He has bivouacked at Valley Forge...charged the hill at Gettysburg...stormed the sands at Guadalcanal...swarmed ashore at Omaha Beach..advanced on Pork Chop Hill and fought in the bunker complex in War Zone "C" in Southeast Asia. He parachuted into Grenada. He stood watch in Beirut. He fought in the streets of Panama and served in the Middle East in support of "Operation Desert Shield". He's a Veteran.
In the very rear of his secret heart there is always a tinge of sorrow, a souvenir of sadness for lost and departed comrades. No matter how gray his temples grow or how many inches he adds to his middle-aged waist, he always walks with a distinctive pride that isn't given to lesser men. He is America with an honorable discharge... He is Democracy with a Good Conduct Medal lost in the darkness of his keepsake box... He is freedom with a Purple Heart. He is a first class fighting man with a quiet walk and sentimental grin. He's America's most honorable citizen He's a Veteran."
Some don't blink an eye at today. They think of it as a holiday, a day off. Some don't have a grandfather who served in the navy. Or a grandfather that served in the army. Or a father who has two purple hearts, troubled memories, and spent countless nights in the jungles of Vietnam.
Who now spends his days making the lives better for all those who are serving now, his brothers, once a marine, always a marine. Whether someone knows someone or not, today, they all deserve our thanks. The wives and the kids who stay behind deserve our thanks.
For all that defend our freedom, years ago, today and tomorrow, thank you.