Today is Veteran’s Day in America.
A Veteran makes a simple decision that takes a lot of discernment. He or she simply says “Yes” to the question “Will you serve your country?”
It’s the discernment that goes into the decision that makes a Veteran important. The first thought on a future soldier or sailor’s mind when first contemplating joining is the very real idea that they may die. This is codified in the contract they sign.
Have you ever seen that contract? Here it is: Enlistment/Reenlistment Document – Armed Forces of The United States.
In that contract, it says, in part:
C.9(4): “Required on order to serve in combat or other hazardous situation.”
Most folks know that for every soldier in the field, there are up to ten military personnel supporting them. This is every person from the cook to the guy at the transportation depot making sure the gas tanks are full. From the electricians to the Military Police.
And each one of these support personnel has signed the same contract.
They are willing to die, on the simple order of a superior officer, in service to our Country.
But are they serving their superior officers? No.
Are they serving Congress? No.
Are they serving the President? No.
Who or what are they serving, then?
They are serving a natural law, expressed eloquently in the Declaration Of Independence and codified in the United States Constitution.
They are serving the simple idea that men are masters of their own destiny, and that to be those personal masters God has given them the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and has ordained that such a right should be protected by the sovereignty of We, The People.
When they serve, they are promising to stand in the way of anyone, anything, or any idea that takes that freedom away from the citizens of the United States of America.
So, what makes a Veteran so important?
They are serving you and me, by making a decision to love us unconditionally, in the manner of Jesus:
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
It is in the Veteran that we see the personification of those natural rights. The Veteran knows those rights in their heart, and has been willing to place there life on the line so you can experience all the rewards and pay little or none of the cost.
It does not matter if the Veteran was in combat, or even in theater. The very fact that they were willing to be in such a situation makes them not only your guardian, but your guarantor. When they sign that contract, they co-sign for your life.
The Veteran guarantees that your liberties will only be taken away from you, quite literally, over their dead body.
Further in the contract, it states: “In the event of war, my enlistment in the Armed Forces continues until six months after the war ends, unless my enlistment is ended sooner by the President of the United States.”
In other words, war means you are in until it is over, unless the President lets you go. He doesn’t have to let you go.
The enlistee knows this when they sign this.
Read the contract some more. You’ll see many conditions under which the President can cause you to serve, even after your enlistment ends.
The enlistee knows this when they sign this.
The Veteran knows this every day of his or her life. And they are ready and willing to give their entire life to make sure you keep yours.
So, I hope you think of things like this when you see a Veteran. I hope you know what I know – that life as we know it and celebrate every day through our lack of thinking about it – and you will sacrifice those few extra dollars to buy the Veteran lunch when you see them in a restaurant; to thank them and give them your slot in line at the grocery store; to thank them and introduce your children to them; to thank them and open the door for them; to thank them when you see their license plate in the parking lot.
I hope you buy a paper poppy from them when they are in front of the Post Office or grocery store, and I hope you give them ten dollars for one of those flowers, not some cheap quarter.
Most of all, I hope you call one today. You know a Veteran. You need to call them and thank them. Thank them for their willingness, regardless of the combat reality of their service.
There is no way you will ever be able to repay them for their willingness – and they will tell you there is no need to do so – but you’d dang well better do your best to at least zero-balance the account.
Though countless in my mind and heart, I give my thanks to Kevin O’Neil, Hovey Cowles, Don Vriezelaar. Jordan Fountain, Denis Cowles, John Cowles, Wendell Hovey, Mike Novak, Doug Singletary, Art King, Calvin Kleypas, Dustin Harris, Lynn Gale, Teddy Wilson, John Painter, Sam Sharp, and many more whom I can’t count because my emotions have overcome me.
Make the commitment today to serve our Veterans every day. Your very life is testament to your need to do that.