A Veterans Day Salute

by andrewcagle

Most people that know me well know that I am a big advocate of non-violence and anti-war causes. I entered into college thinking I wanted a career in the military. After three years in Texas A&M’s Army ROTC program, I terminated the service contract I had with the U.S. Army. One of my good friends has jokingly called me the most highly-trained-near-pacifist he knows. I became the guy who went from hoo-ah to hippie overnight. Through those years I made many friends who are now serving or preparing to serve overseas, most of them in combat theatres. I also spent a significant amount of time with active duty personnel and veterans during my years of training in college.

My late grandfather served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War, and would always recall that basic training in Wichita Falls was the only place in America you could be standing in mud, get snowed on, and have dust in your eyes all at the same time. I also have personal friends outside of family and school that are veterans of various wars. While I personally did not choose to continue pursuing military service, I gained insight into our service men and women’s work and sacrifice. Furthermore, I have gained respect for their service and career choice.

No matter your political opinions, personal philosophy, religion, or other persuasions, respect and honor for our nation’s veterans is something we can all support. One of the seven Army values is selfless service (see, I did learn something). The members of our armed service sacrifice many things that most of us never will. I don’t believe that any of our nation’s veterans risked their lives for any other reason than the belief that their service benefited others, mainly you and I. Harmony of belief isn’t important. Today is about the service of the individual, and we put those things aside. The courage to face long periods of time away from your family is one of the things that blows me away. That in itself is a huge sacrifice. From personal experience, I can tell you that our soldiers, marines, airman, and others train and work hard. Military service is demanding and asks everything of an individual and family. There are many ways to serve America, but the military has to be one of the toughest and stands in high regard.

I want to say thank you to those who have given their time, energy, dedication, and lives to serving our country. I may often have my own views on war and conflict, but I will always have the utmost respect for the sacrifice of the men and women of our military. This Veterans Day, from one American to another, your service is valued and I thank you for it.