I recently heard someone ask, “What’s the big deal about being a veteran? Why are we giving these guys so much attention?” This was quite a contrast to the “thank you for your service” I often hear going through TSA’s airport security line, retired ID in hand. Still, despite the bluntness, I found these questions provoked a period of reflection, rather than caused any offense.
I believe our society makes a “big deal” over today’s veterans, appropriately, out of gratitude. We are, or should be, thankful that those currently and formerly in uniform pledged their lives to defend our country, its citizens and our democratic society. This, alone, is worthy of the homage extended. However, there are unseen sacrifices and consequences of military life that also call for our thanks.
Two examples of how military service can impact one’s life are seen in the experiences of a friend and his father. The latter, drafted into the Army during World War I, served in the 32nd “Red Arrow” Division alongside the National Guard of Michigan and Wisconsin. He participated in the Meuse-Argonne campaign, was gassed in the trenches east of Meuse, and was shot in the leg days before the Armistice.