Look deep into the eyes of a Veteran today. It’s not hard to find one across the Brazos Valley. For those over 60 years old, chances are good that they are wearing a ball cap with their service insignia on the bill. Maybe they are wearing an old service jacket to stay warm in our newly cold air outside.
Maybe there’s a look on their face of solitude and solemnity this day that has them quieter than usual…reflecting on a time where they all committed the same first step. They had a desire to make a difference in the world around them. The first Veterans Day was established at the end of World War I and is celebrated every November 11th.
Military service during wartime is not a choice, but a necessity. Yet, in the past there was never a problem getting people to volunteer to enlist. In fact, many young men lied about their ages to actually gain entry into service rather than seek to find some convenient reason they could not serve their country. Many times those who might have a physical impediment that kept them from active military duty still found a way in other branches to be of service from the ground or behind a desk, all because they shared that same desire to serve.
In some families, military service is generational and it’s a natural expectation that sons and daughters will follow in their parents’ footsteps and enlist in a particular branch of service. For others who are the first in their families to enlist, the military is one of the best prospects to learn an important, relevant trade and to earn funds to continue education after military service is concluded. For other young people, service is the first choice for what to do after high school graduation. The prospect of leaving home for lands and towns unknown presents an attractive and exciting challenge on its own.
Military service means a keen sense of discipline is needed and expected. This new kind of lifestyle where one has little free choice and must follow the orders of those ranking above them is a great way to understand how business works, as many contemporary business organizations follow a top-down management and leadership style, where seniority and longevity mean ultimate promotion unless unusual circumstances enter.
The oath of enlistment and oath for commissioned officers into military service is simple, but profound:
“I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
This same simple oath is taken by all patriots who enter our armed forces. This oath is sincere and offered with no reservations and those who agree to it are expected to live up to it…defending our country against all enemies, being loyal to the United States above all other countries, and to support our country. In that oath, each service person is uniquely alike in their mission.
Especially as we are in a day and time where our friends and neighbors and allies are in the midst of war, some of which we are supporting with our personnel and funds, we remember the sacrifices that are being made in the name of military service to the United States of America. It is who we are and what we do as Americans and patriots.
This Veterans Day means something special to all who have served, and to their families, who with the service person support their choice for entering the service to our country. They are due our greatest thanks, our admiration, and our salutes when we remember their gifts to us in serving. When you see someone in a ball cap as a retired service person, or if you see someone in active duty uniform today, please take a moment to stop them and say, “Thank you for your service.” Without them, we would not be the great nation we are today. God bless all of you on this Veterans Day.