"I'll be gone for twelve days; it's the only time I've been out of the country except for Vietnam," he said, as if he needed an excuse to take a vacation. But it was his way of bragging that he had served in the Armed Forces like his uncle had in Korea, his dad in the Coast Guard, his father-in-law in Patton's Army, and his grandfather in the Marines. He had done his share and his story took care of two birds with one stone: bragging that he deserved a vacation and bragging that had served his country.
His eyes were closing for tomorrow would bring another day, a new day, with the annual reminder - Veteran's Day. He would begin his day by playing "Shadow Taps" as a trumpet duet with Frank Goessler at Academy of the Sacred Heart grad school. 800 children, parents and teachers would be there paying homage to Vets, but he didn't think that they would really understand. They had not been there. They could only write about it, speak about it, listen and learn.
We hope go to war so our sons won't have to go to war. Deep down we know better. The words are shallow for conflict is in man's nature. Good and evil are a part of "His" creation. There will always be those who need more, want more, will never stop until they get more. Enough will never be attained. There will always be those who will look for any excuse to exercise their birthright - to bludgeon society with misdeeds in the name of their heritage.
And just as war seems to raise its ugly head every generation, so do trite expressions as light, truth, justice and freedom. Heroes spring up equally as the law of physics provides an even balance: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
So this day among days we think we have found a hero. He comes to us from within - within our land and within ourselves. He espouses to protect and "make it right." He claims to be everything to everybody, yet readily admits to his vulnerability, for he says he cannot be our hero without our help. He cannot govern without our help. He cannot eradicate war without our help. He cannot reach the pinnacle without our help.
We have found the answer, albeit stumbled across the answer. The hope that our hero is giving us, is leading us to, is laying in front of us for the taking - is ourselves. Will we accept the challenge? Will we make the correct choices as individuals? Will we lead by example? Will we look upon our fellow man as God looks upon us? Success will allow us to stand among our peers as heroes. Then our citizens will be heroes worthy of respect. And then the U.S.A. may be held in esteem among nations.
On this Veteran's Day we are all veterans, as sure as we are all saints of God. Enjoy your day, enjoy your life and enjoy your God, and may God bless our Veterans! and may God bless our - America!
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Bob is Music Director at St. Mark's Methodist Church in Florissant, Missouri.
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