Respect the vets

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 13, 2004

Being married to a man who served in the United States Marine Corp, a daughter of a man who fought in the Vietnam War and a granddaughter of a man who fought in World War II, I was deeply moved by the Veteran’s Day ceremony I attended in Murfreesboro Thursday morning.

As I listened to the compelling stories of former service men and women, coupled with vivid emotion inciting poetry, sentimental selections of patriotic songs, that I remember singing every morning in elementary school, and a resounding recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, I was instantly transported back to a place of innocent reverence and pride I had even as a kid.

To be a part of a nation that produced such quality men and women of uniform, as I was fortunate enough to share company with this week, was simply an honor of the greatest magnitude.

There is something about being in the presence of those who spent months away on the fields of foreign soil, sacrificing the comforts of warm food, soft beds and the company of family to defend the freedom of a generation of people they may never know, for the sake of an ideal worth more to humanity than life itself, freedom.

I am completely enamored and awestruck. Words can hardly describe the enormity of respect and appreciation that resides within my heart for you. I often wonder how I can pass the torch to my children and my children’s children when so many of the freedoms you fought to preserve and protect are again being challenged, and this time by an enemy from within?

How can I build into the minds of this impressionable generation the patriotism and passion you all so proudly demonstrate when the culture through its media, politicians, activist judges and special interest groups poison them with philosophies of entitlement and selfishness?

Like you, I share the desire to leave future generations with a legacy worthy of those whose blood was shed to defend the foundation of this awesome country, but I fear we are few in ranks.

In a poem that was read at the Veteran’s Day celebration, entitled, &uot;Remember Me,&uot; a flag speaks to a generation who seems to have forgotten her saying, &uot;I don’t feel as proud as I used to. When I come down your street, you just stand there with your hands in your pockets and I may get a small glance and you look away. I see children running around and shouting…they don’t seem to know who I am.&uot;

What a sobering dose of truth. The poem goes on from old glory’s perspective asking, &uot;Is it a sin to be patriotic anymore?&uot; The question begs a response. You said you believed in the values of this country and when push came to shove, you proved it. Nobody drug you to the recruiting stations, forced you to sign the paperwork or wear the uniform to defend your flag, but you did, and as a result, we have a home and a history we can be proud of.

But the ranks of those with your fervor seem to be thinning, and with the threats to our freedom slipping in through cleverly written legislation and other venues, we need all the soldiers we can get.

So, where have we failed? What can we do to reverse this trend of carelessness and reinstitute sacrificial love for God, man and country?

What, in your wisdom, would you impart to your successors as advice for how to revive a seemingly egocentric convenience-driven generation?

I love this country and the principles on which it was founded, but I fear if my generation continues to propagate selfishness and feel good philosophy, we are heading down a road of certain destruction.

So many stand ready to take your sacrifices for granted and ungratefully lay claim to their &uot;rights,&uot; but sadly fail to realize the responsibility that accompanies the ideals for which you fought.

You are my heroes and though I do not wear a uniform or take orders from a squad leader, I will one day have to answer to future generations for the choices I have made and when I stand before them old and in repose, I want to be worthy of the kind of thanks you so proudly deserve.

May we live in a way that will uphold the tremendous honor of your service, for you are a precious treasure who have left us very large shoes to fill. Thank you for your sacrifice; you are an inspiration to all of us.