During the Vietnam War, I was certified as a Huey helicopter repairman (my MOS was 67N20), and I served a total of 6 years in the Minnesota Army National Guard.
Concurrently, my sister was an officer in the Navy, and spent her entire tour of duty stationed as a nurse in Long Island, New York.
In the months following Pearl Harbor, our dad (at the age of 33) joined the Army to help defeat the original Axis of evil.
In spite of our military service, I wouldn’t consider our family to be a military family. Although all of us DID make our contribution to making this country a safer place, our contributions pale by comparison to the sacrifices made by the men and women of our armed forces who have faced mortal danger on a daily basis.
For more than 60 years, our Presidents (including Barack Obama) have made speeches on the beaches of Normandy, largely to a group of increasingly older and smaller group of men, who had participated in the greatest amphibious operation in the history of the world.
Arguably, the speech by Ronald Reagan in 1984 was the best one, but all of them at least made an attempt to pay homage to the brave soldiers who literally changed the history of the world.
It’s impossible to imagine what it must have been like to be part of that invasion force, but I suspect that the opening clip from Private Ryan comes pretty close to depicting the terror of the event.
Although I’ve listened to a lot of speeches about our armed forces, and watched more than my share of war movies, the tribute that brought the biggest lump to my throat (oddly enough) is a Ford commercial that was released during the early years of the current war in Iraq:
Next November 11, say another prayer of thanks for our veterans, and be sure to watch that 2005 Ford commercial one more time.
If you happen to run into a vet not long after that, just tell him this:
“I’m just glad that you’re home”.