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Veterans Day

By Remy Benoit

I am posting this early so you may feel free to copy and post it in its entirety without alteration or removal of author's information to whomever you feel needs to see it.

To all of you - Thank you for your service, and Welcome Home.

Veterans Day

He walked the city streets at night all through the late forties.

A car backfired, and he hit the ground.

It is in the eyes; in the eyes where they have been, what they have seen.

“Oh, you’re back.”

No one who was not there, wherever there was, be it the Meuse-Argonne; the beachheads at Normandy; the snow of Korea; the green heat of Vietnam; the mountains of Afghanistan; the dry sand of Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom; or a hundred other places, can really know what lies behind what is in the eyes.

Yet we must be here for them; we must let them know that whatever they saw there, whatever they had to do there to survive belongs to all of us; for we have made a Covenant with our soldiers; wherever they went, wherever we sent them, we would be here for them when they came home. It is a Covenant too often not honored, and yet it must be.

When they were small children they were -- hopefully, though not always -- loved and cherished. When they became young men and women we sent them to far off places to fight for us. Very often in those places all the rules were turned upside down; all the belief systems challenged; survival became the intake and outlet of breath in strange and terrifying, soul-burning, situations.

There are a lot of Veterans waiting to hear that "Welcome Home and Thank You for your service."

There are a lot of Veterans who need treatment in VA hospitals and are not getting it; and sadly also, in some situations, are not getting respect from those who are supposed to treat them.

Many Veterans have told me they do not get respect.

We are a nation at war.

We need to remember that.

We need to honor those who serve regardless of our feelings about a particular war.

We need to be there for those in active service.

We need to be there for those who have served previously.

Buy a poppy.

Say "Thank you for your service." Only those who have served in far away lands know how very much those few words mean.

When I said those very words just a few days ago to a Vietnam Veteran, after a stunning silence, he told me it was the first time in all these years he had heard them, or the "Welcome Home" that I added to them.

A few weeks ago, my father, a Navy Veteran of World War II, said those same words to a Veteran of his own war. This man too had never had them personally directed to him before and his eyes filled with tears.

That can change with you, today. The words are simple:

"Thank you for your service, and Welcome Home."

That is a good beginning. From there you can start becoming aware of what their needs are, and looking into whether or not they are being met.

Welcome Home Soldier.


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This item is part of historian, author, editor, and educator Remy Benoit's ongoing weblog for Veterans, writers, students, and others who believe in learning from and making history; including thousands of articles and posts and the free writing seminar, Using History for Healing and Writing.

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