It is the VETERAN, not the preacher, who
has given us freedom of religion.
It is the VETERAN, not the reporter,
who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the VETERAN, not the poet, who
has given us freedom of speech.
It is the VETERAN, not the campus
organizer, who has given us freedom to assemble.
It is the VETERAN, not the lawyer, who
has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the VETERAN, not the politician,
Who has given us the right to vote.
It is the VETERAN, who salutes the
who serves under the Flag,
ETERNAL REST GRANT THEM O LORD, AND LET
PERPETUAL LIGHT SHINE UPON THEM.
|I don't know if
you saw this in the news but it really impressed me. Funny, our
US Senate/House took 2 days off as they couldn't work.
On the ABC evening news, it was
reported that, because of the dangers from Hurricane
Isabelle approaching Washington, DC, the military members
assigned the duty of guarding the Tomb of them Unknown Soldier
(The Old Guard) were given permission to suspend the assignment.
They refused. "No way, Sir!"
Soaked to the skin, marching in the pelting rain of a tropical
storm, they said that guarding the Tomb was not just an
assignment, it was the highest honor that can be afforded to a
The tomb has been patrolled continuously, 24/7, since 1930.
We can be very proud of our young men
and women in the service no matter where they serve.
God Bless them.
Here is an article I picked up
Veterans, Who Do They Think
November 21, 2003
By Laurel A. Olmsted
I overheard a young man exclaim, "Veterans, who do they
think they are?" Was he a protester carrying a
sign? No. Was he someone who had been wronged by a
Veteran? No. He simply had discovered that his mail might
not be delivered on Veterans Day.
I don't know who I am more upset with, the mother who didn't say
anything to her son, or myself, for not telling this guy just
who Veterans think they are. So I decided to write something
that I can hand to someone should the question ever arise
again. This is just a partial list of all that our
military has done, and is doing for us.
Who Do They Think They Are?"
are the men and women who live every day in pain. Physical
pain from their wounds, lost limbs, or maybe it's the shrapnel
they still carry. Emotional pain from being separated from
their families for long periods of time. For missing the
birth of their child, or death of a parent. Mental pain
for what they have seen and what they had to do. Pain from
knowing that they would have died for you and you are not wise
enough to know you should care.
They are the ones who make life-long friends. They know
how precious life is and they never forget the ones who didn't
make it back. Never. That is why you will see
Veteran's at the cemetery on Memorial Day walking around and
silently thanking the ones who are buried there. They
don't have to know them personally to know the sacrifice each
are the ones who are loud and boisterous. They are the ones who
They are the ones who shivered in the foxhole, trying to keep
the enemy at bay.
They are the ones who crawled through sand when the temperature
was 126 degrees.
They are the ones who carried their buddy to safety.
They are the ones who sometimes drink too much, trying to keep
the memories from haunting them.
They are the ones who carry the flag with the honor and respect
They are the ones who wear their military uniform with pride and
still have it in their closet 30 some years later.
They are the ones who don't ask you to go out of your way for
are the ones who have gone out of their way for you.
They are the ones who spent many nights awake on guard duty so
you didn't have to.
They are the ones who helped keep our shores safe while you
played video games.
They are the ones who missed their birthdays, anniversaries, and
other important dates.
They are the ones who got shot and got sent home, but felt
guilty because their buddies were still there.
They are the ones who followed orders even when they didn't want
They are the ones who had enough love and pride in their country
to do a job many others couldn't do.
They are the ones who stepped up when the call went out.
They are the ones who ate MRE's till they were sick of them.
They are the ones who cried "Medic" at the top of
their lungs though they couldn't even hear their own voice.
They are the ones who cried when they were alone in their tent.
They are the ones who flew planes, drove tanks, worked a ship,
and armed the missiles.
They are the ones who had moms at homes praying for them every
minute of every day.
They are the ones who made it safe for you so you could go to
school or work.
They are the ones who missed ordering pizza, the movies, the
shopping trips, and all that you take for granted.
They are the ones who asked to take a friend's deployment
because that friend had a family.
They are the ones who gave their girlfriends a lock of their
hair to keep as a promise of their return.
They are the ones who wanted to come home
They are the ones who didn't return.
They are the ones who waited months for a letter.
How can you not wait one day?
God Bless Our Veterans,
Laurel A. Olmsted
Wife Of A Veteran
Proud Mother of two Veterans
And now a few words about
some other "Veterans", the wives
"What It Means To Love A Soldier"
Special to American Forces Press Service
FORT HOOD, Texas, Oct. 8, 2003 -- She
stands in line at the post office waiting to send a package to
her husband, a U.S. Army soldier serving in Kuwait. Envelopes,
pens, paper, stamps, sunscreen, eye-drops, gum, batteries,
powdered Gatorade, baby wipes and Twizzlers.
He said he needed the sunscreen and baby
wipes. She threw in the Twizzlers.
There's a common bond at the post office
in this military town. People aren't just sending letters and
packages; they are sending smiles, hope, love and just a touch
of home. People look around at the others, sharing their
concern, fear and pride. They take comfort knowing they
are not alone.
Passing through the gate leaving the Army
post, she enters another world. A world filled with
pawnshops, surplus stores, barbershops, fast food galore and, of
course, "Loans, Loans, Loans."
This is a life that includes grocery
shopping at a place called the Commissary. A life that has
her venturing to the Post Exchange, referred to as the PX,
instead of heading to Wal-Mart. This is where you come to
learn, appreciate and respect the ceremonious traditions of
Reveille and Retreat, and of course, the National Anthem from a
completely different perspective.
At 6 a.m., or as the soldiers call it,
0600 hours, Reveille can be heard across post. The bugle
call officially begins the military workday. At 1700 hours
Retreat sounds signaling the day's end. Soldiers render
salutes, chatter fades and all eyes are drawn to the nearest
flag. At 2300 hours, the bugle sounds Taps, denoting not
only the "final hour" of the day, but also honoring
those we have lost.
When the national anthem plays in a
military town, a special aura fills the air. Men, women,
and even children stop to pay their respects. Civilians
place their hands over their hearts. Soldiers
salute. In this world, the anthem isn't just a prequel to
the echo of "Play Ball."
Since she married her soldier and
experienced the Star Spangled Banner from this perspective,
she's noticed how people in civilian towns react to the national
anthem. She notices the people who continue to talk, the
hats that stay on, the beer that doesn't get put down, and even
the jeers at the person singing the anthem. The meaning
seems to be lost to a majority of people. But if she looks
closely, she can see who has been blessed enough to learn this
lesson. Some are grandparents, some are parents, and some
are young children.
At first glance, children growing up in
this world of artillery, tanks and uniforms are the same as any
other kids from any other town. They do the things that
kids do. They play sports, go to school, and play with their
friends. The difference is that their group of friends may
change once a year, or more, due to a change of duty station.
They don't have any say in this.
They could be two years old and not remember a thing about it,
or they may be 16 years old getting ready for prom and having to
up-root and move again. They're known as "military
brats," a harsh misnomer for those who learn a lifestyle of
sacrifice at such a young age. Yet, it makes them strong.
The little boys become the men of the
house and the little girls become the ladies. They adapt
to these different situations. They live with the reality
that one, or even both parents, may not be around to celebrate
birthdays and holidays. They know there will be will be
times when they will look into the stands during Little League
games and see only an empty space in the bleachers.
At the same time, these kids have a sense
of overwhelming pride. They brag about their daddies and
their mommies being the best of the best. They know their
Mom's been through deployments, changes of duty stations, and
the ever- changing schedules Army life brings. While Dad
is away, she takes care of the house, the bills, the cars, the
dogs, and the baby.
To cope with it all, she learns military
families communicate via the Internet so he doesn't miss out on
what's happening back home. But he does miss out. He
won't be there for the baby's first steps, and he may have to
hear his son or daughter's first words through a time delay
across a static-filled telephone line.
She remembers what it was like before
he left, when everything seemed "normal." Normal
except for the pressed uniform, the nightly ritual of shining
boots, the thunder-like sound of the Apache helicopters flying
overhead, and the artillery shells heard off in the
distance. OK, relatively normal - when they occasionally
went to the park, spent holidays together and even enjoyed four-
day weekends when he could get a pass. But, the real
challenge began with the phone call.
She relives the moments before she
kissed him goodbye. A phone ringing at 0400 hours is
enough to make her heart end up in her throat. They've
been expecting the call, but they weren't sure when it would
come. She waits to hear the words, "Don't worry, it's
just a practice run." But instead she hears,
"Here we go."
So, off he goes to pack, though most of
the packing is finished because as a soldier, he is "always
ready to roll." She gets the baby, but leaves his
pajamas on because it is just as well that he sleeps. She
takes the dogs out, she gets dressed, all the while trying to
catch glimpses of her husband. She wants to cherish his
presence because she doesn't know when she'll see him again.
She knows that in other homes nearby,
other families are enacting exactly the same scene.
Within 15 minutes, the family is in the
car heading to the "rally point." As they pull
up, they see soldiers everywhere, hugging their loved
ones. While people love to see tearful, joyous
homecomings, fearful, anxious, farewells are another story.
Too soon, with his gear over his shoulder,
he walks away. She is left behind, straining to keep an
eye on her soldier. As the camouflage starts to blend,
only his walk distinguishes him from the others.
She takes one last look and takes a deep
breath. She reminds herself she must stay strong. No
tears. Or, as few tears as possible. Just words of
encouragement to the children, to her friends and to
herself. Then she turns, walks back to the car, and makes
her way home to a house that is now eerily quiet.
She mentally prepares for the days, weeks,
even months ahead. She needs to focus on taking care of her love
while he is overseas. Her main priorities will be the care
packages, phone calls, e-mails, and letters sprayed with
perfume. And, she can't forget to turn the stamp upside
down to say, "I love you."
Taking care of her family, her friends,
even strangers - this is her mission as an Army wife to do these
things without a second thought. At the ripe old age of
22, she knows the younger wives will turn to her for
advice. "How do you balance a checkbook? How do
you change a tire? When are they coming home?"
Only when she knows everyone else is OK,
the bills are paid, the cars maintained, the lawn cut, the kids
asleep, the pets calmed down, and the lights are off, does she
take time for her self.
Alone at night, she runs the next day's
events over in her mind to make sure it will all get
finished. She reviews her checklist of things to do,
things to buy for his care package. Once again, she checks
the calendar to count down the days. Before turning in,
she checks to make sure the ringer is on for the late night
phone call that might come in from overseas.
Before she falls asleep, a few tears hit
the pillow. But even as the tears escape, strength enters
her mind, body, spirit and soul. She remembers why she is
here. She remembers the pride and the love that brought
her here in the first place, and a sense of peace comes over
her, replacing, if only for a second, the loneliness, the fear
and the lingering heartache she feels while her soul mate is
This is what it means to love a soldier.
She wouldn't have it any other way
~ Nancy Parker ~