Every year on Veteran's Day my heart is filled with gratitude to those who gave so much in years gone by and awe for what so many endured to ensure our freedom today.
And I have mixed emotions because my thoughts dwell on those who served in previous wars and even during previous peace times more than they dwell on those who are presently serving. And this is complicated because two of those presently serving are the nearest and dearest to my heart of any veteran ever. I can prove it. Just look back at a post I wrote a few years ago on Independence Day and there will be no doubt of my pride and love for these two soldiers.
But whenever I think of how difficult it's been having my sons in the Army and how difficult and challenging it's been for their families, I think about what it meant to be a soldier, sailor, marine, or airman in previous conflicts. I think of mothers and wives who heard nothing from their loved ones for weeks or maybe even months. Today we're lucky enough to get a reassuring phone call or email occasionally or sometimes daily. Also, although it's a double edged sword, with the up-to-date reporting that we get today, we know if there's been an incident and although it can be stressful when there is; more often than not, we can feel fairly assured that our guy or gal is safe at least for that moment.
And then there were the hardships that the soldier endured. Although the military provided the best they had, that best was a far cry from the new technology that exists today. Boots, blankets, uniforms, and even MRIs were woefully inadequate and couldn't compare to the materials and nutritious foods that are now available. And I won't even go into the weaponry and equipment they had to work with in previous wars.
And there was one more difference that often loomed between today's active veterans and the veterans of past conflicts and that is the draft. There is a difference between going to war because you believe in the cause and going to war because you have no choice. And I'm mainly talking about Vietnam. Not only did the majority of the soldiers who served there, do so unwillingly, but when they returned they were often criticized and vilified and at best, ignored. Fortunately our eyes have been opened and now the Vietnam veteran is respected and appreciated appropriately.
Today I'm happy to say the military enjoys the respect and honor that they deserve. I'm proud of our country and everything it stands for and I believe it's what it is because of our military.
But on this Veteran's Day, I'll tip my hat an extra time to the men and women from bygone times when to be a soldier was even harder than it is today.