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No veteran …

I have not been in the military.

My father trained other soldiers, but he did not see front-line action. Dad did have an older brother who was buried with honors before I was born. My grandfather came to America when he was six because his father was getting the family out of Germany before war began. The years keep going way back, yet still seem to be connected to war in one way or another.

Thirty years after the fact, I discovered that another uncle had seen action as a paratrooper. He still will not speak of those times. My mother’s brother was a military chaplain. I always thought that the two titles were at cross-purposes. Now I honor him the more for it. May he rest in peace.

I hate the idea of war. I don’t like paying taxes which support a military always prepared for war. Who really does? But, I voted, freely. I go to the church of my choice, freely. I write this article, freely. I hate the idea of war. I hate the necessity of war. I can not give enough thanks and honor to those who have gone to war for me.

Some people think of veterans as old guys whose uniforms no longer fit. The guys belong in history books. The picture of my grandfather is not in a history book. It is cherished in a family album. He was taken from his family’s homeland so he would not someday be forced to fight for the wrong reasons. Many years later, he buried a son who fought for the right reasons.

Veteran’s Day is not for other people who have died. It’s for our people. We knew them. We know them. War does not affect only the military. Talk with the families who are missing a loved one. Talk to the families who are holding tight to a loved one who has come back.

Whether a professional sports team wins or loses does not affect my family. The United States going to war does affect my family. My job, education, or driving skill does not ensure my children equal opportunity or the right to choose their own livelihood. I can not buy the right to vote. These things have been given to me by veterans. The price has been high, but, the older I become, the more I know the price is still worth it.

Veteran’s Day honors people who are veterans. It also honors the reasons they are veterans. It honors us. A huge parade or a small American flag held by a toddler; every honor given represents what our country stands for, and for what I hope I stand for.

My son is in the army. Every day he trains for everything that is extremely far from being safe. I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat. I never end a phone call without stating, “I love you” because it is true, and because I might not be able to tell him this in person ever again. But, I am so proud of him.