Thank a veteran for peace

Published 10:10 am Thursday, November 8, 2018

If you like to eat, thank a farmer.

If you like to eat in peace, thank a veteran.

I can’t remember where I first saw that phrase, probably on Facebook, but it is true. Just like money isn’t free from an ATM and food isn’t free from the grocery store, our freedom to eat in peace isn’t free, either.

Men and women have fought on battlefields to preserve that right. Sometimes we disagree with the disagreements our leaders get us into with other countries, but we should never disagree with the courage it takes to put on a uniform of the United States military.

Sunday is Veteran’s Day. Celebrate by thanking a veteran. Buy a poppy. Attend a ceremony. Be proud to be an American.

Veteran’s Day is always celebrated on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. First called Armistice Day, it marked the time in 1918 when an armistice was signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany ceasing hostilities on the Western Front of World War I.

Veterans deserve our admiration and respect all of the time – but especially on Veteran’s Day.

My dad was in World War II, but he didn’t talk about it much. Not on the front lines, he knew better than to boast of his service when many of his fellow servicemen never came home, or came home with debilitating injuries and memories that turned into nightmares that wouldn’t go away.

My early memories of veterans was my Uncle Thomas Edsel “Red” Pope, a career Army man through and through. He retired a major, after traveling the world and enduring two tours in Vietnam.

Yes, Vietnam. Growing up in the 60s, Vietnam was mine, and many people’s first experience with war. It was the first to be seen almost nightly on the television news. We saw the descruction and death that war causes, as well as the unrest here at home for those who disagreed with us being there in the first place.

As tragic as Vietnam was, the ending of the war was just as tragic.

Our young men didn’t come home to parades for heroes. They were called names I won’t print here, bad names. Many had done and seen things no person should ever have to do or see, yet we didn’t properly respect them for what they had done. They served their country when their country asked for their service. No questions, just service.

Even our government failed many of these men. They went to war as somewhat innocent young men, some even teenagers. They came home with physical and mental wounds, many of them serious mental wounds. Our government’s answer was to pretty much just throw pills at these veterans to help keep them sane. Those pills didn’t solve problems, they just masked them. And they didn’t keep them sane, they just created additional problems.

Even today, we struggle with ways to heal our men and women of the military who come home with mental scars. I’m a true believer that we’re all different, especially our brains. What works for one may not work for another, and that’s tough for something like a government to fix. It’s even tougher for a government to fund every “fix” that might work.

My annual Veteran’s Day ritual has been to attend the service in Davie County. Once held at the monument in downtown Mocksville, it is now held at Senior Services on Meroney Street. It starts at 2 p.m. Sunday. All veterans will be recognized, and you’ll be amazed at the talent of our high school band, and other young people always a part of the program.

– Mike Barnhardt