Hug a Veteran by Nephew, Aaron Reed on Facebook

Hug a Veteran
by Nephew, Aaron Reed on Facebook

Tomorrow is Veterans Day. I like to think of it as “Thank a Veteran Day,” or – even better – “HUG a Veteran Day.”And, since so many of my friends and relations who are veterans aren’t in my immediate area, let me give y’all a virtual hug here.

Eric and Elliot, two of my many cousins, are in Afghanistan. Tomorrow, while I enjoy a day off, they’ll be doing what they do every other day of their deployments. Eric, Elliot, thank you. Come home safe.

Papa, thank you for your service. Uncle Bob, Uncle Junior, Uncle Vic, John Scherrer – thank you for your service.

Wow. Looking at this, I realize what a seagoing tradition we have in this family. Let’s remember Uncle Lorenzo, too, a PT-boat engineer in the South Pacific during World War II.

Mikey, thank you for your service. I sure wish our nation had been better able to support its warriors, no matter what the collective opinion of the war was, when you came home.

Uncle Joe, another Army veteran, thank you for your service.

Cousin Chris, thank you for your service in Desert Storm. Even though you were a Marine, you rode a tank, so I’m lumping you in with the grunts.

Let’s remember, too, our parents’ Uncle Victor. Did he really ride into Germany with the last horse-drawn artillery battery of World War II? Someone tell me the story, will you?

In a family as big as ours, we are bound to have all sorts of heroes – some who served in uniform and others who I admire equally for other things; but tomorrow is Hug a Veteran Day.

While you’re at it, why don’t you hug the ones who shared their service? Because, you know, that ain’t easy either. Start with Kelly and Kristin, who both get to be new moms while their husbands are on the other side of the world.

Then, whoever is closest, kiss my mom’s cheek, and Aunt Anna’s and Aunt Ginny’s … you know who they are.

Thanks to my friends, too: to Danny (remember Veterans Day in Bosnia? Christmas in El Salvador?), and Kendal, and Steve and Eric, and Ken, and Ed, and Paul, and Ricky, and Casey, and Cody, and Erik, and Hilton, and Joey, and Luke, and Ron, and Craig Atwood, and John Stanford, and John Hattenbach and John McHale and John Felsher … I know I must be leaving some people out, either because I killed that brain cell or you never told me; tell me now, and I’ll add your name.

Thank you, all of you, for serving. Whether it was in peacetime or at war, at home or abroad, on a heaving battleship or a silent sub or in the air or in a pair of muddy or dusty combat boots, thank you. You endured lousy pay, lousy food, and probably – at one time or another – less than ideal living conditions. You gave up, for some period of time, your right to choose how to live your life. Some of you never fired a shot in anger; some of you saw buddies die beside you.I’m just grateful you came home. And I’m grateful to you for your service.

Thank you. And … big hugs from Dallas.

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