A veteran is often sought to honor at hometown and local events. They can be seen at rodeos, fair events, and before every Women’s Basketball home game at UNC Chapel Hill. We were recently asked, “Why it’s important to recognize those who served in our armed forces?” Have you ever thought about that? Here are my thoughts.
A veteran selected for honors at a local community event represents all veterans everywhere. It is not possible to do what we would like to do. We want to reach out and shake the hand of every veteran and say, “Thank you for serving our country.” We may see one walk by or in a store and, when possible, we do say, “Thank you for your service.”
At a sporting event or activity, the honored veteran is so much more important. We are saluting our national ensign. The honored veteran stands before the flag of our nation and represents our military wherever they serve.
The honoree also represents the soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen that we know and remember. They remind us of parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, mothers, aunts, uncles and friends. Some are with us still, others are gone. The honoree is our touchstone–something we can see and almost reach out and touch. He serves as our link to those gone, but not forgotten.
We salute him or her and our nation, but in our hearts we are also saluting and remembering every veteran we remember, as we wipe a tear or beam with pride. Yes, and as veterans we may even remember our own service to our country and silently proclaim, “God Bless America!”
Calvin Coolidge said it best, “The nation which forgets it defenders will be itself forgotten.”