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Warrior writings

What is a Vet?  Some veterans bear visible signs of their service: a missing limb, a jagged scar, a certain look in the eye.  Others may carry the evidence inside them: a pin holding a bone together, a piece of shrapnel in the leg – or perhaps another sort of inner steel: the soul’s ally forged in the refinery of adversity.  Except in parades, however, the men and women who have kept America sage wear no badges or emblems.  You can’t tell a vet just by looking at them.

What is a Vet?  They are the policemen or policewomen on the beat who spent six months in Iraq sweating two gallons a day making sure the armored personnel carriers didn’t run out of fuel.  She – or he – is the nurse who fought against the futility and went to sleep sobbing every night for two solid years in Da Nang, Vietnam.  They are the Prisoners of War who went away one person and came back another – or didn’t come back at all (names on a wall).  They are military drill instructors who never went to war—but saved countless lives by turning slouchy, no-account civilians and gang members into Marines, Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen, and teaching them to watch each other’s backs.  They are in the parade on Memorial Day, and dress themselves again in the uniform they are proud of, pinning their ribbons and medals on with a prosthetic hand and arm.  They are the three anonymous heroes in The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, whose presence at the Arlington National Cemetery must forever preserve the memory of all the anonymous heroes whose valor died unrecognized with them on the battlefield, in the ocean’s sunless deep, or in the sky so high.  He is the old guy bagging groceries at the supermarket-weaker now and aggravatingly slow—who helped liberate a Nazi death camp and who wishes all day long that his wife was still alive to hold him when the nightmares come.  They are the ordinary and yet extraordinary human beings—people who offered some of their life’s most vital years in the service of their country, and who sacrificed their ambitions so others would not have to sacrifice theirs.  They are the warriors, the saviors and a sword against the darkness, and they are nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on behalf of the finest, greatest nation ever known.

So remember, each time you see someone who has served our country, just lean over and say “Thank You”.  That’s all most vets need, and in most cases it will mean more than any medal they could have been awarded or were awarded.

Two little words that make it mean a lot, “Thank you.”
(untitled, written by Robert Keegan)