Paying tribute to Veterans

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 11, 2004

Veteran’s Day arouses three emotions in most Americans:, solemnity, because it celebrates the veterans who have defended our great country; sadness, because so many have lost their lives in the process; and pride, because they have fought so well.

The supreme value that our veterans have fought and died from the American Revolution to the Civil War to two World Wars is – freedom. America is the country of freedom. We were the first to declare that government exists to serve men; men do not exist to serve government. We were the first to proclaim that all men are equal before the law. We were the first to say that each individual has inalienable rights; the right to life, liberty, property, and to the pursuit of happiness.

Veteran’s Day is certainly important to the veterans themselves. They don’t ask for much, and often are among the most humble people you will ever meet. Yet, they all have a story to tell, and it is a story we can all benefit from. These are not just stories of war and peace, but about life, and how to be a good person. Most importantly, in a time when our idea of patriotism is at times so clouded by the media, veterans can tell us from experience what it really means to be a patriot.

There is nothing like it in the whole wide world, to be in service to your country. I wish more than anything in the world that I could have the chance, once again, to do it all over again; and to encourage every young person that may happen to read this to consider service to your country. The idea of leaving home at eighteen for me was almost a hard pill to swallow, a big step, but I really felt the need to serve, and it was so good that I gave 20 years, and two days, and really enjoyed it all.

Here is where I always try to include a poem on the veterans. I had this one in my pocket for a long time. Penned by Ben Hagins, who was a radar navigator on B-52s during the Vietnam era.

Airmen, Seamen, Soldiers, Marines

During these difficult times, the world is unsure.

Our troops are deployed, how do they endure?

The stress, the strain, the mental pain.

Separation from family – what is their gain?

Is it glory, reward, a job well done?

Or duty to country that is second to none.

I think you’ll agree that it’s good to be free.

We’re very proud that they’re all they can be.

They have raised their hand in proud salute.

To give lives if required in humble resolute.

You see these patriots have answered the call.

To protect our freedom for one and all.

So let’s not forget what all this means.

These Airmen, Seamen, Soldiers, and Marines.

Today on Veteran’s day in Ahoskie, the American Legion will conduct our annual Veteran’s day parade at ten o’clock in the morning, followed by a ceremony at No Man’s Land at 11 o’clock.

With a special guest speaker, Mr. Julius Shoulars of Norfolk, Va., formerly of Roxobel. You may have read of his World War II experiences over the Poortown website.

A good read. Hope to see everyone there Thursday morning.

Have a great Veteran’s day!

For God and Country,

John Bracy

Commander Post #102