As our country honors the veterans who have gallantly served for us, it is important to reflect on the true measure of what it means to serve our country. These men and women deserve our gratitude and our admiration.
With the gorgeous fall weather that we experienced this weekend, I was fortunate to hike with my family and appreciate the beautiful scenery around us. It was a pleasant hike—not too strenuous and with perfect temperatures. As I admired the outline of Sugarloaf Mountain in the distance, my mind imagined the soldiers of the Civil War hiking through fields or forests and climbing the mountains on their way to war. And the word “sacrifice” immediately came to mind.
So often when I think of our veterans, I think about the courage they demonstrate and their bravery in battle. I admire their commitment to serve and their incredible patriotic love for our country. As I hiked along the trail, I reflected on the many sacrifices a veteran makes.
I tried to imagine the physical sacrifices—the endurance required in basic training and on the battlefield, pushing one’s body to the limits regardless of the fatigue, the pain, the hunger, or the incredible discomfort. I tried to imagine the pain of losing a limb or suffering a traumatic brain injury, the incredible sacrifice required for rehabilitation and adjusting to a new lifestyle going forward.
I pondered the emotional sacrifices—the time away from loved ones and the special milestones missed with spouses or parents or children. I considered the need to constantly adjust to new surroundings—whether at a new base assignment or in a foreign country during deployment, watching the emotional impact on family members in these new settings or during deployment and understanding that service and sacrifice are demanded of veterans’ families, as well. Finally, I reflected on the emotional scars that stay with veterans for the rest of their lives after experiencing the horrors of war.
The sacrifices made by the many men and women who serve our country and ensure our freedom need to be recognized and remembered. Veterans Day is one day when we pause to reflect and offer gratitude, but our veterans desire much more. They deserve a nation where citizens work to support our country and its democratic ideals, a nation where citizens embrace the rights we have been granted and work to ensure those rights are extended to every man, woman, and child.
When Americans work to fulfill the democratic values of our nation, we honor the courage and sacrifices of our veterans. That is the thanks they deserve every day.