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Rethinking Veterans Day

November 11 is Veterans Day. I’m a veteran, but what I’ve never really liked about this holiday is that for many, maybe most, it’s just another day off with pay. Celebrate Veterans Day at the Mall at one of the sales! Wow! Catch up on chores at the house in honor of a veteran. Really? I know my cynicism is showing, but that’s not what I want.

I feel like I have worked on every Veterans Day. I have fantasized that on this national holiday, only the veterans got to take off work. THEY would gather. . . to what? To remember, and to honor those who served with them. It would become a day of respect, but not glory. Veterans Day should be to remember the sacrifices of soldiers and sailors.

My brother-in-law died recently. Although he certainly risked his life while serving as a helicopter pilot in Vietnam, his death was from natural causes. After he died, one of those with whom he served with sent this to my sister, his widow:

“I am passing this along . . . to honor my dear friend, Bruce Bonner, who saved many lives hauling wounded out of hot LZs in his loach [chopper] during this terrible war. Taking fire, he would not leave until his ship was full. I consider him the bravest man I have ever known. Tammy, this is directed to Bruce and his band of brothers. May he rest in peace. God bless. Paul”

I did not know this about Bruce. I knew he was in combat, but he never talked about it. I wish I had known. If I had, Veterans Day would have been the appropriate time for me to tell him how much I respected what he did. I’d have told him that I loved him.

Memorial Day is to honor the dead. Veterans Day includes those who are still living. Maybe you know someone who served. Have anything to tell them?

© Terry Noffsinger

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